National Security Letters Target Thousands of Google Accounts

9f1dgoogle national security lette 600x298 National Security Letters Target Thousands of Google Accounts

Given the fact that the FBI’s
National Security Letters come accompanied by gag orders making
it illegal to reveal to anybody that you are the very special
recipient of an order to release information to the feds, it’s a
happy wonder that Google is providing even a glimpse into the
company’s experience with the things. According to a
transparency report released yesterday, (most of) the world’s
favorite search engine has received fewer than a thousand such
letters per year from 2009 through 2012, with between 1,000 and
2,000 American user accounts targeted every year but 2010, when
2,000 to 3,000 accounts were subject to FBI scrutiny.

Google is being coy about numbers because it’s pressing up
against the limits of what it’s allowed to reveal by telling us
this much. Writes Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement
and Information Security:

You’ll notice that we’re reporting numerical ranges rather than
exact numbers. This is to address concerns raised by the FBI,
Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers
might reveal information about investigations. We plan to update
these figures annually.

In terms of what Google is surrendering in response to these
NSLs, the company’s
FAQ adds:

[T]he FBI can seek “the name, address, length of service, and
local and long distance toll billing records” of a subscriber to a
wire or electronic communications service. The FBI can’t use NSLs
to obtain anything else from Google, such as Gmail content, search
queries, YouTube videos or user IP addresses.

National Security Letters are peculiar things, not as
far-reaching as full warrants in terms of the information they can
scoop up, but laden with few safeguards, too. According to the
Electronic Privacy
Information Center:

National Security Letters (NSLs) are an extraordinary search
procedure which gives the FBI the power to compel the disclosure of
customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet
Service Providers, and others. These entities are prohibited, or
“gagged,” from telling anyone about their receipt of the NSL, which
makes oversight difficult. The Number of NSLs issued has grown
dramatically since the Patriot Act expanded the FBI’s authority to
issue them.

So … What information does Google have on you?

Taken from: 

National Security Letters Target Thousands of Google Accounts


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