Reporting Larry Magid
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Google has become the first internet company to release information about the FBI’s warrantless requests for information of some of its users.
Google is prohibited by law from even acknowledging specific requests, which begs the question, just exactly what kind of information are they releasing?
We’re talking about a national security letter, which is a letter issued by the FBI to Google or another internet service provider that wants identifying information about a user or a subscriber. It could be a phone company subscriber or someone using a service from Google or Facebook or somewhere else. Again, it is illegal to acknowledge these letters exist, but clearly they do.
Google actually talked to the FBI and got permission not to give a lot of specifics, but to simply state that they have such letters and to give a vague indication of how many there were. They are warrantless and Google doesn’t have to report on them, but it is part of Google’s transparency report. Google tries to be transparent about the type of information that governments (it doesn’t always have to be the U.S.) are asking of its users.
To make it clear to people, even when you have an expectation of privacy whether it be a phone call an email or a text message; that information is stored on a server somewhere and with proper legal authority, whether it’s the U.S. government or even in a civil case, that information can be disclosed.
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