Google released the latest edition of its biannual transparency report Thursday, and the company took the opportunity to lash out against the U.S. government's sweeping surveillance programs.
Between January and June 2013, Google received about 26,000 requests for user information from governments — 10,918 of those requests came from the U.S. Google also notes the U.S. government has tripled its queries since the company began reporting this information in 2009.But it's the redacted graph in the lower right that's drawing attention. Google notes it's being legally prevented from revealing how many government requests are issued under the highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Consumerist notes, "The public has no idea whether or not FISA queries make up a substantial portion of that 10,918 total."
And that information might be crucial to understanding the full extent of the U.S.' surveillance programs. Slate notes the courts authorized by FISA are highly secretive and have often been accused of rubber-stamping National Security Agency requests to obtain information.
A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union commends Google's efforts to provide more transparency and says the government must also take steps to safeguard virtual privacy.
"Companies have stepped up and finally begun to do their part. Now we have to push the administration and Congress to take the necessary steps to make sure we have the electronic privacy rights we deserve for the internet age."
Google and other software companies have been at odds with the government since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked critical details of the agency's surveillance programs in May.
The latest transparency report comes one day after Google representatives testified before a Senate hearing that the NSA's spying programs threaten to break up the Internet into a patchwork of localized networks run by individual governments. (Via PCWorld)
And on a less professional note, The Desk reports several Google engineers penned irate anti-NSA posts on their personal blogs after revelations surfaced in October that the agency had circumvented Google's internal security.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been bitterly divided over the need to reform the NSA. Competing bills are circulating the House and Senate with reforms that would either de-fang or legitimize the NSA's surveillance programs.