Google petitions Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court over data requests

Google argues it has the constitutional right to publicly address information it is forced to share with the U.S. government.

In another move to either further clarify or separate itself from the U.S. government in the wake of the NSA scandal, Google has announced it is petitioning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Last week, Google penned an open letter  to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for the federal agencies to lift a gag order on national security requests, as did a few other tech giants involved in the NSA-PRISM revelations.

The U.S. Government loosened up a bit by letting some companies publish more data about how many requests they have received and how they have been handled.

But Google is pushing the envelope further on Tuesday.

As reported by The Washington Post, Google filed a petition with the FISC, citing the First Amendment protects the internet giant's right to publicly discuss information it has been forced to share with the federal government.

For reference, the FISC was established by U.S. Congress in 1978 as a special federal court to review applications for surveillance warrants related to national security investigations.

Here is a copy of a memo from Mountain View, published to Google+ on Tuesday afternoon, in full:

We have long pushed for transparency so users can better understand the extent to which governments request their data — and Google was the first company to release numbers for National Security Letters. However, greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately. Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests — as some companies have been permitted to do — would be a backward step for our users.