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Google Files First Amendment Challenge Against FISA Gag Order

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the straight-to-the-top dept.

Google 163

The Washington Post reports that Google has filed a motion challenging the gag orders preventing it from disclosing information about the data requests it receives from government agencies. The motion cites the free speech protections of the First Amendment. "FISA court data requests typically are known only to small numbers of a company’s employees. Discussing the requests openly, either within or beyond the walls of an involved company, can violate federal law." From the filing (PDF): "On June 6, 2013, The Guardian newspaper published a story mischaracterizing the scope and nature of Google's receipt of and compliance with foreign intelligence surveillance requests. ... In light of the intense public interest generated by The Guardian's and Post's erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any. ... Google's reputation and business has been harmed by the false or misleading reports in the media, and Google's users are concerned by the allegation. Google must respond to such claims with more than generalities. ... In particular, Google seeks a declaratory judgment that Google as a right under the First Amendment to publish ... two aggregate unclassified numbers: (1) the total number of FISA requests it receives, if any; and (2) the total number of users or accounts encompassed within such requests."

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163 comments

Uhm Yeah (5, Insightful)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44043591)

Good luck with that. If they don't get blown out of the first Federal Court who hears it, we may have an actual chance to hear what the Government is actually requesting, not the sanitized and approved verbiage that has been coming out. Somewhere between what Snowden has been saying and the Government is allowing people to comment on, the truth may be found.

The Patriot Act needs to go and so does this secret court bullshit where information is handed over on a whim, not on a true judicial review.

Re:Uhm Yeah (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043841)

They will get blown out of the first court. Thats the norm.
But it hardly matters, because sooner or later it reaches the Supreme Court, and there is this little matter of the Constitution involved.

Every company with a web presences should grow a pair and join this suit.
Reasonable safeguards can be put in place (delays, or reviews in an open court by a REAL judge that actually attended law school),
but telling someone they can never reveal something is just plain wrong.

Re:Uhm Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043869)

But it hardly matters, because sooner or later it reaches the Supreme Court, and there is this little matter of the Constitution involved.

True, but the supreme court can be wrong, and they have been in the past.

Re:Uhm Yeah (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043937)

But it hardly matters, because sooner or later it reaches the Supreme Court, and there is this little matter of the Constitution involved.

True, but the supreme court can be wrong, and they have been in the past.

Funny thing about the Supreme Court being wrong... Its sort of like Paple Infallibility.

They are right when they make a decision (because our constitution pretty much pronounces that to be the case) and
they are just as right when they overturn their prior decisions, as they frequently do.

In the fullness of time FISA courts are going to be found unconstitutional. Precise predictions as to WHEN are not possible, but
either that happens or the United States of America ceases to exist. Some say it already has.

Re:Uhm Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044235)

In the fullness of time FISA courts are going to be found unconstitutional.

I'd be happy if they start from forcing everything to at least go through FISA. They are becoming irrelevant since government is happily bypassing the rubber-stamp overview of FISA already.

Why fight an unconstitutional body that is being bypassed in an even more unconstitutional way?

Re:Uhm Yeah (3, Interesting)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year ago | (#44045279)

They are right when they make a decision (because our constitution pretty much pronounces that to be the case) and they are just as right when they overturn their prior decisions, as they frequently do.
They are just a bunch of people. They make mistakes too , better that they correct it rather than sticking to their (or their predecessors) wrong view point.
Anyway, all the courts really do is to ensure that laws are interpreted and applied consistently. They cannot ensure that the laws are correct or that they are always mutually consistent. i.e. if the congress made a law that says 1+1=3, the court says that it is OK and that the country has to interpret it as such. Later if the congress says 1+1=5, then the court has to either invalidate both laws or find one to be wrong.

Good example is the metadata issue. Courts ruled earlier on that addresses on the envelope were not secret and could be searched by the government. But everything inside the envelope was obviously private. It seems like the executive branch has stretched that interpretation to mean that metadata of emails are public (i.e. from:, to: etc.) even if the email never left a service provider (an email from hotmail to hotmail never goes through any public server, but government collects it anyway). Now the court has to either re-interpret the law or provide more detail on what the court meant earlier in the 1800s when they said that addresses are not private.

Re: Uhm Yeah (1, Troll)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44043877)

Lol, that's cute, you think the constitution still has bearing on anything in DC.

Re:Uhm Yeah (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44044101)

They will get blown out of the first court. Thats the norm.

Federal judges have lifetime appointments, and little inventive to rule against what they actually believe to be right. Since Google HQ is in California, the first court is likely to be in the 9th district, which has a reputation for smacking down government overreach. Google may ultimately lose, but it isn't a certainty.

Re:Uhm Yeah (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44044285)

From TFA:

Google asked the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday to ease long-standing gag orders

So its not even out of the FISA court yet, and when it does leave the FISA court, its not going to district court. It goes to the court of appeals.

And its not likely going to the 9th Circuit either, and you can thank your lucky stars for that.
The 9th circuit gets bitchslapped more than any other circuit for just being wrong.
The 9th approved warrant-less GPS tracking. Bitchslapped by SCOTUS.

Way too many of 9th Circuit rulings have failed constitutional muster, and bolstered big government over reaching.

Re:Uhm Yeah (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#44044397)

Unfortunately, the suit was not filed in the 9th district, but with the "UNITED STATES FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE COURT
WASHINGTON, D.C."

That particular court is packed with judges chosen by the chief justice--so expect deference to the NSA.

Re:Uhm Yeah (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44043861)

Just to be clear, that was an honest "good luck with that" right?

Why would they "get blown out of" court exactly? Do most federal judges enjoy things which, to me, seem to intentionally violate the constitution? Does google lack the funds to hire lawyers who would be competent enough to point out how idiotic these things are? I'm not a lawyer, as most slashdotters are not.

Re:Uhm Yeah (3, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#44044861)

Why would they "get blown out of" court exactly?

The Government will just say the spying program and information about the reasons for the data requests are a matter of national security and that will be the end of it.

Re:Uhm Yeah (5, Informative)

14erCleaner (745600) | about a year ago | (#44043981)

we may have an actual chance to hear what the Government is actually requesting

They're only asking to be allowed to release counts, not the content of the requests. So, no, still no chance of finding out what's being requested.

Re:Uhm Yeah (5, Insightful)

tukang (1209392) | about a year ago | (#44044219)

They're only asking to be allowed to release counts, not the content of the requests.

So they're only asking to release metadata, which according to Mr. Clapper isn't a type of data [youtube.com] , so I don't see why the gov't would reject this.

Re:Uhm Yeah (1)

berashith (222128) | about a year ago | (#44044277)

i like how you think

Re:Uhm Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044825)

Hats off to you!

This is the sound of one Clapper hand clapping:

Re:Uhm Yeah (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year ago | (#44044905)

They shouldn't ask. They should just do it.

Re:Uhm Yeah (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about a year ago | (#44045069)

That would speed things up a wee bit.

Re:Uhm Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044315)

Why would they get blown out of court as you so amusingly put it? Google have the money to take the government to task over this sort of thing, you should be supporting this rather than ridiculing it.

Legal Meta-games (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year ago | (#44044625)

Hey gang, we really might be morphing into "Web 3.0" in whichever of many things that means.

We're starting to enter the age of the Law Meta-Game.

Google does their fair share of morally complex things, but they haven't been called "stupid" very often.

So *because it's Google* and not some two-guys-and-a-garage operation, they're not so easy to shove in a corner. Even at the rate that lawyer fees rise, if some "typical" (as the cynics would say) "travesty of justice" occurred, that then becomes a hell of a Meta-Game news article.

"Google: We wanted to report on secret govt data requests. Govt said no."

You/they don't file motions like that "out of boredom on a Tuesday". They have the money to submit the motion and all the bells and whistles. So this might be the first of many kinds of steps it takes to slowly begin to roll back the Big Brother Engine. Not a lot, but they're helping to drag it into the sunlight where such scampery things don't like to be.

Re:Legal Meta-games (5, Insightful)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44045247)

Well the reasons for them doing it are simple: Self Preservation. If you had your E-Mail, Social Contacts/Pictures etc. in a system that was regularly tapped by the NSA and the FBI, then you might think twice about using those services. Google's freely available services that you can use but while you're using them, we'll mine every piece of information out of you that we can. They're a commercial NSA and when the real NSA steps on their toes, possibly driving users away that's not good for business. Facebook and Microsoft have the same problem, hell all free cloud based services have a problem now with this "215" section of the law. Yes, Google is an 800lb Gorilla and so is Microsoft, well 650lb now and Facebook, meh, 400lb. If they start pushing on those idiots like Feinbitch who as chairwomen of the Senate Intelligence Committee (boy there's an oxymoron for you) stating that the NSA has access to your phone conversations, when they want. If they start pushing on DC and getting all the masses lined up, maybe things will change. The EFF and ACLU have some pretty sharp lawyers as well and they haven't had much luck in cracking all of the intrusions into our privacy and the secrecy of why the government needs this information. Feinstein and others with her mentality in DC are the reason we have this mess to begin with, now the feign ignorance and shock or coyishly say "well it has thwarted terrorism." Funding comes from congress, there is no way in hell that She and members of her committee didn't have direct knowledge of what was going on, much less every member of the House and Senate for the past decade. They've written the laws that allow the secrecy and the pulling of information without warrants and because of that and the nature of the legal process in this country, lower courts bar cases from moving forward on "National Security" reasons. This is an affront to the 4th amendment yet alone the 1st amendment as Google is claiming. Like I said, good luck because those Federal Judges have to look at the law as written and do you think that stooge Holder isn't going to appeal his way up to the Supreme Court if an "activist" judge somehow rules against the Government?

Also anybody out here should remember back in 2007 there was an uproar because of the warrantless wiretapping going on. What happened then? Well the cases dragged on and then congress gave the telecomms immunity in a new piece of legislation.

Oh and the only case that is still moving forward since 2007 (it is 2013 now after all) is being held up by the Justice Department and that retard Clapper..

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=190892480 [npr.org]

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, personally urged U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White to throw out the remaining lawsuit. Clapper wrote the judge in September that the government risks "exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States" if forced to fight the lawsuit.

That case has EFF lawyers behind it, think they'll be successful?

So the constitution and out privacy violated in the names of National Security. Shit, Woz hit it on the mark the other day.
http://www.valuewalk.com/2013/06/apple-inc-aapl-co-founder-steve-wozniak-rethinks-america/ [valuewalk.com]

In Wozniak’s view, the Patriot Act started things going downhill, and he said there isn’t even “a free open court anymore.” He compared the U.S. government to a king who rounds up people and kills them or puts them in prison. He said when reading the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, he doesn’t see how the things that are happening now are actually allowed to happen.

He also compared the U.S. to Russia. He said that when he was growing up, the Russian government would follow people around, spy on them and cause them to disappear, but he feels as if the U.S. is heading in that same direction now.

So, while this shitstorm is still hitting the fan we have two possible outcomes.. 1) Everybody goes "meh" and congress and the courts just start agreeing that Terrorism BAD, Ugh, Constitution BAD Ugh or 2) We end the Patriot Act, we start putting meaningful teeth into our court system to prohibit this kind of behavior from the Government that is after all put in power by us, not the NSA not a bunch of Contractors who sit at keyboards in DC listening and watching everything we do.

Trying to save face (1, Troll)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#44043597)

Google is pretty big, they could have done this years ago, when they were approached by the NSA and whatever other acronym agencies to do this shit in the first place. AFAIC Google's image on this is horrendous, I don't see what they can do for me personally to ever trust the company not to provide gov't with information again. Maybe then can, but that would take something else, not words and assurances, a different approach to technology that would be verifiably secure from government snooping.

Re:Trying to save face (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#44043809)

Yeah, Google is big now. Back in the day, not so much. Back then, they really didn't have the juice to tell Uncle Sam to go piss up a rope.

Re:Trying to save face (4, Interesting)

oztiks (921504) | about a year ago | (#44045013)

I'm not surprised by this. I have a friend whose an activist / environmentalist and he keeps telling me about how awful the world has become and how the Govt is taking away heritage listed rainforest for it's own financial desire. My response to him was clear. Go to the open forums that are held discussing the future of certain lands and ask the hard questions to the face of the people who are taking active part in the corruptive activities. See I have a theory why things are the way they are.

It isn't that world has "become" a bad place and all these shady goings on have started, oh no, the world "is" a bad place and it's because nobody knows what they are doing is wrong. Consider what the internet has done here with the whole Snowden situation. The internet is shining a light on the dark crevices on our society and we are seeing all the huddled groups of cockroaches who are used to the darkness step into the light for first time.

Isn't it better to assume that Google's employees simply followed the rules of their predecessors as their predecessors perhaps thought (being patriotic and all) that what they were doing at the time was the best thing and had the best of intentions?

What Snowden did was ask the tough questions and Google answered those tough questions with a "Golly you're right!". Don't crucify Google for having a moral sense when asked because those who are in positions of power that steal only do so because they get away with it, no one questions it and therefore "it's obviously okay to do". When they find out it's not 99% of the time they back peddle, usually without any argument.

Google... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043601)

Anyone else disturbed by the big G's loud claims to be oh-so-good lately?

_______________________
Good Guy Google We Are.

Logs Everything.
_______________________

Re:Google... (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#44043741)

Logs Everything.

You must not be paying attention. They are practically required to these days.

why not just publish them? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44043631)

The usual way First Amendment cases are decided is that someone exercises their right to free speech, the government tries to stop them, and they challenge that attempt at restraint in court. E.g. rather than suing for a declaratory judgment that you have the right to publish a James Joyce book, you just publish it, and then defend yourself if the government tries to come after you [wikipedia.org] .

Re:why not just publish them? (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#44043685)

Except in this case, the government doesn't just come after you. They come after you and disappear you to a small beach community in Cuba called Guantanimo Bay, where you sit and rot without charges or even counsel for decades on end.

That's what happens when your government can't be bothered to follow its own laws.

Re:why not just publish them? (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44043749)

If you're a nobody, perhaps, but do you really think the government is going to kidnap Google executives and render them to a black-site prison without trial?

Re:why not just publish them? (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44043811)

do you really think the government is going to kidnap Google executives

With enough campaign contributions from Bing's parent company, the government might even spin it as a way to keep the American people from getting, shall I say, "Scroogled".

Re:why not just publish them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044247)

If you're a nobody, perhaps, but do you really think the government is going to kidnap Google executives and render them to a black-site prison without trial?

What do you do if they are?

There was a time I would have said “do you really think the government is going to kidnap random people and render them to a black-site prison without trial?”

Re:why not just publish them? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044431)

YES. Because it ACTUALLY HAPPENED BEFORE [stanford.edu] .

The QWest CEO/Chairman got 10 years in prison for refusing to wiretap his own customers.
Do you even remember seeing any news about that anywhere?

That's how easy it is!

And EXACTLY because people like you think "Naaah, that's *too* crazy.".
It's one of the two secrets for every successful con job too.

Re:why not just publish them? (3, Informative)

Gordo_1 (256312) | about a year ago | (#44044955)

He got 10 years for insider trading. Nice try though.

Re:why not just publish them? (3, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#44045211)

That's what THEY want you to believe! Wake up sheeple!

Re:why not just publish them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045289)

This is hardly believable. If he was trying to stand up to our constitutional rights, he'd make the case to the public. Surely a well-connected CEO knew how to contact reporters to tell his side of the story!

Re:why not just publish them? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#44043753)

It would be interesting to see that done to an entire company (that happens to be fairly well known both domestically and internationally)

Re:why not just publish them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043805)

Dude, Gitmo is for furriners.

Re:why not just publish them? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44044099)

That's what happens when your government can't be bothered to follow its own laws.

Know what else happens? People stop respecting the law, look what happened during Prohibition.

Re:why not just publish them? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043727)

This is safer for Google, and they can guarantee a case gets filed with a definite answer. The government might just chose not to pursue the case, and then there would be no precedent set. Google is "fighting the good fight" here.

Re:why not just publish them? (4, Interesting)

Grog6 (85859) | about a year ago | (#44044939)

I really had hopes for America.

We've Tried the first two boxes:

Pundits Railed against the Orwellian "Patriot Act". (soapbox)

Voting in Obama to fix the wrongs that were going on, but he became the motherfucking Emperor to Dick Cheney's Darth Vader. :facepalm: (ballot box)

If the Supreme Court says this shit is all Constitutional... (Jury Box)

America has sold more Ammo over the last eight years to its citizens than were used in WWII.
Ammo plants are one of the few industries in America running full out. :)
Veterans returning from the war are seeing how their government is treating them; many are homeless, and suffering ptsd.

We will see a change; either people will pull their heads out of their asses, or they will be removed.

I just hope the people in charge realize it before it's too late; when shit happens, all the denials in the world aren't going to help.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_boxes_of_liberty [wikipedia.org]
.

Re:why not just publish them? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about a year ago | (#44045087)

There is no jury box at SCOTUS. Nor at FISC for that matter.

Re:why not just publish them? (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about a year ago | (#44045287)

We will see a change; either people will pull their heads out of their asses, or they will be removed.

Sorry, but do you mean the people will be removed, their heads will be removed, or their asses will be removed? I'm curious because one of these will require a novel redesign of the guillotine...

It's PR (-1, Troll)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about a year ago | (#44043637)

They're doing this, knowing full well they'll get denied, because it looks like they're "standing up for their users."

Just smoke and mirrors.

Re:It's PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043817)

Fuckload more than any other company involved has ever done.

Along with all the phone companies and their 'we need retroactive immunity!'

Re:It's PR (-1, Troll)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44043903)

Yeah, Google is just pissed that the government is crowding in on their turf.

Don't be evil, my ass.

Re:It's PR (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44044155)

For fucks' sake, guys, do you two work for Apple or Microsoft? Every big corporation is evil, but when they do good is not the time to bash them, no matter what their real motives are.

If you don't work for Apple or MS, grow the fuck up. Sheesh. Dumb kids... the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If they're not against you they're for you.

Re:It's PR (2)

Quasimodem (719423) | about a year ago | (#44044911)

"... the enemy of my enemy is my friend..."

No, the enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, so I'll just sit back and watch them swat each other while I eat popcorn.

Re:It's PR (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044655)

They're doing this, knowing full well they'll get denied, because it looks like they're "standing up for their users."

Just smoke and mirrors.

Coming from someone who happens to be sporting a big blue F on his profile.

Sorry mate, you lost all credibility, pot kettle and all that.

Come on, Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043673)

Unconstitutional laws are unenforceable and need not be followed.

Now, put your money where your mouth is already.

SCOTUS is final (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44043795)

Unconstitutional laws are unenforceable

Not if the Supreme Court disagrees with you that a particular statute is unconstitutional.

Re:SCOTUS is final (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#44043845)

Unconstitutional laws are unenforceable

Not if the Supreme Court disagrees with you that a particular statute is unconstitutional.

Unenforcable, I think you mean. SCOTUS has upheld several decisions later struck down as unconstitutional when the court swung the other way and somebody got a case in front of them. In the meantime, said unconstitutional laws are very much enforceable.

Re:SCOTUS is final (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043907)

What a tortured way of saying that a law is Unconstitutional ONLY after the Courts say so.

Joe Citizen doesn't get to decide constitutionality to suit their personal wishes.
Given the recent trend in the courts, I rather suspect this will ultimately be found unconstitutional.
They seem to be ratcheting back the 9/11 wartime excesses.

Re:SCOTUS is final (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044005)

If the Supreme Court decides that a particular statute is non unconstitutional, then that statute is Constitutional. It is LITERALLY the job of the Supreme Court to decide what is/is not Constitutional.

Re:SCOTUS is final (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#44044319)

If that's germane to the case at hand, yes.Otherwise it's simply a venue for resolving legal disputes.

Re:SCOTUS is final (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044927)

They interpret the constitution, and interpretations can be wrong. In fact, there have been cases where past decisions of the supreme court have been overturned. Since something can't be both constitutional and unconstitutional at the same time, someone must have been wrong. Your 'authority figures are 100% correct' mentality is disturbing.

Re:Come on, Google (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44044149)

Unconstitutional laws are unenforceable and need not be followed.

Physical law says otherwise.

What would happen if they defied the order? (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about a year ago | (#44043711)

Seriously, what would the government do if Google just went ahead and released the information? I may be naive but I can't really see how they would get in trouble that they couldn't get out of. They have lawyers and lots of money, so why not assert their rights as surrogates for the millions of us than can't for one reason or another. For that matter, what would happen if they just refused to surrender to requests for blanket information?

Re:What would happen if they defied the order? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043801)

Seriously, what would the government do if Google just went ahead and released the information?

Uh...put people in Jail for breaking the law? There is no legal defense--so unless you want to move to China, you beg for permission to speak.

Re:What would happen if they defied the order? (4, Informative)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44044975)

Seriously, what would the government do if Google just went ahead and released the information?

Uh...put people in Jail for breaking the law? There is no legal defense--so unless you want to move to China, you beg for permission to speak.

Let me give you an example of what sorts of things they can do.

I worked for a bank, once. Banks are closely monitored by the Federal Government.

One of our obligations was to feed everyone and everything to a Federal database of terrorists, drug dealers, money launders and other suck ilk. Including, at one point, the entire duly-elected Palestinian government.

The requirements were so all-encompassing that I used to joke that if you so much as walked your dog past the building, both you and your dog were supposed to be checked against it.

Failure to comply in a satisfactory manner could result in:

o Severe fines and penalties
o Revocation of the bank's charter
o Extensive prison sentences for both corporate management and the board of directors
o Ditto for the CIO, my boss and me/co-workers
o Ditto also, I think for the corporate legal department

We once went into a major panic because someone had opened an account and their (fairly common) name didn't come up as a "hit" against a money-laundering Mexican travel agency. Other people with that name have made national news just trying to buy a new car, which is why Federal databases can be so dangerous.

Google may not be a bank, but considering their size, I'm sure that there are more than a few things that come under government scrutiny and/or regulation. So I don't think they're likely to go "lone wolf" here.

Re:What would happen if they defied the order? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043819)

Because the NSA already has enough dirt -- drug use, gambling addictions, Thai sex vacations -- on any Google executives to blackmail them into compliance.

Re:What would happen if they defied the order? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043863)

Behind a company's name are people. People who can be held responsible by law. Snowden may not mind going to jail for his beliefs but I bet there aren't many others willing to do the same (I'm certainly not).

Whether you/we like it or not, the law is the law. If you don't follow it, there are repercussions.

Re:What would happen if they defied the order? (1)

berashith (222128) | about a year ago | (#44044321)

maybe google just needs to talk about the compiled data, and mention how it may be on a somewhat "internal" server. And maybe screw up the robots.txt file, and maybe accidentally index it to a giant search engine. Or to step back further, they could just talk about having this information somewhere, and anonymous somehow finds it. Or maybe it is a random leak like the kind that illegally came from the white house before the election that never got pursued.

Asking permission is just the first step if they are serious.

Just publish them. (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44043715)

The gag order is blatantly illegal under the 4th amendment, and as such carries no force of law.

Re:Just publish them. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043887)

You and I don't get to declare what is or isn't illegal. Just because you consider it illegal (as I and others may as well) doesn't automatically make it so.

Until a court declares it to be unconstitutional, any laws passed by our government (whether publicly or in secret) have the full power of the law behind them.

Re:Just publish them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044163)

It's a joke.

And this may be, to a layman such as you: a company can hand over information if it damn well pleases, with or without your express written consent. It's like three men keeping a secret, if two of them are dead. Makes you wonder why we haven't found the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

Re:Just publish them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044583)

It can be legal without being lawful.

Re:Just publish them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045221)

Anyone with an advanced clearance signs several non-disclosure agreements. Even if it's not disclosing classified information (i.e., potentially committing treason), one can get prosecuted for violating the NDAs. It's the prosecutorial principle of "lesser, but included" offense.

Can we trust anyone? (4, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44043735)

It doesn't look like anyone trusts what the government is saying about their FISA requests. Does anyone trust what Google says any better?

Re:Can we trust anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043917)

Whythefuckdidnttheydothisbefore? Itssimplyaprstuntfromthecompanythatthingsmedicalrecordsshouldbepublic.

Re:Can we trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

suutar (1860506) | about a year ago | (#44044365)

Well, it's not like we'd trust Google any _less_...

Re:Can we trust anyone? (2)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#44044537)

My initial thought was that Google is trying to regain some trust from the public. So many people I talk to lately (even prior to the NSA thing) are increasingly creeped out by Google.

My second thought was that maybe there's a revenue stream in here that I'm missing. Ads for tin foil, maybe?

Re:Can we trust anyone? (0)

markjhood2003 (779923) | about a year ago | (#44045159)

NSA's PRISM program and Google's business model are quite similar in many ways. They both collect huge amounts of data on people and mine the resulting social graph in order to target them, and they both rely on secrecy and an apathetic public. The one thing they didn't take into account was the idealism, intelligence, and courage of people like Edward Snowden.

Trust neither the government nor Google. Instead, prohibit the mechanisms that allow them to abuse their power, and support whistle-blowers and truth seekers.

Even if (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043769)

Even if they are allowed to publish those numbers, it will not matter.

The damage has been done, and Google should simply blame themselves.

media missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043803)

I don't think the important point is whether there are 100 or 1000 requests for such information.

The important point is whether the government is capturing all or most internet traffic for later analysis if necessary. Even if they only "go after" some guys who are actually thought to be bad guys, just collecting such huge volumes of data on everyone's business is the problem. Even if there is, today, at the moment, oversight on how that data is used. It's only a matter of time before the scope of use expands to places we really, really don't want it to go.

And they aren't building the Utah datacenter to store just the metadata.

They'll probably be silenced for national security (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44043807)

ding dong

"Hi, are you Larry Page?"

"Yes, who are you .. mfpmppffm mfmmppfmp fmpmfpmfffmm mmpmmmmfm ppfmpfmpf ppfmpf ppmmpp mfpmpppmfpfm mfpmpppmfpfm!!"

"Bring the truck around front, Roy, we've got him now, in the interests of National Security."

Re:They'll probably be silenced for national secur (4, Interesting)

berashith (222128) | about a year ago | (#44044469)

this sounds a lot like the visit Kim Dotcom received. I keep thinking about him lately, and wondering if he just wasnt going to play ball, and had the perfect platform for "enemies of the state" to take advantage of.

Clever (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043827)

This a plot by the corporates to establish more precedent for Citizens United v FEC by getting the courts to once again uphold first amendment rights for non-persons.

Enjoy figuring out where to stand on this one, Slashdot. :) If you have to write a 1500 word essay to explain your reasoning, you lose.

</troll>

The cloud is a drug and users are loosers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043919)

So don't do drugs.

Re: The cloud is a drug and users are loosers (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#44044973)

So don't do drugs.

I'll bet you fit the dictionary definition of "loser":

A person who is habitually unsuccessful at some endeavor ...

"Looser" means:

Unbound; untied; unsewed; not attached, fastened, fixed, or confined; as, the loose sheets of a book.

For you, I vote overdose, luser.

Technically... (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44043949)

Discussing the requests openly, either within or beyond the walls of an involved company, can violate federal law

Any act of congress that purports to deny our freedom of speech is not a law at all, but a usurpation. Congress has no power to trump the constitution.

-jcr

UK Libel laws.... (1)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | about a year ago | (#44043969)

The UK (home of guardian) has some of the toughest libel laws in existence, so if google is sure the claims are false and it has suffered such damage it should seek this court action. It could be both tell the truth, the NSA might have just setup shop on the fibres on the backbone, if every piece of information is logged then it is as good as having direct server access, as far as requests go.

Re:UK Libel laws.... (1)

45mm (970995) | about a year ago | (#44044097)

I don't think Google is doing this because they've been libeled - it seems they're doing this to "fight the good fight". How interesting (ironic?) the same government that corporations bribe through special interests and lobbying now have to fight against their bribers for Constitutionality.

Re:UK Libel laws.... (1)

jjo (62046) | about a year ago | (#44044211)

And how, exactly, is Google's legal team going to conduct a libel case in which they are prohibited (by US law) from disclosing their evidence?

Re:UK Libel laws.... (1)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | about a year ago | (#44044299)

Courts are able to hear evidence behind closed doors, cases involving national security do pass through the courts now and then.

Re:UK Libel laws.... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44044451)

But a libel suit would still look bad for Google. This is a PR issue, and you don't win those by filing libel suits.

To what purpose (5, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44044031)

Once upon a time, I'd always heard that those types of gag orders were to prevent the individuals under investigation from being alerted so they couldn't hide evidence or flee, and I'm not opposed to that.
These days it seems to be more of a political move for the purposes of avoiding oversight and preventing the authorities from being charged with illegal, or at least immoral and unethical, activities.

Re:To what purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044383)

Google's desire to gain back some of the reputation loss is a good move. However, they waited so long before acting

Additionally this does not address the hoovering up of information under PRISM which does not require such court orders - even if it is putting that information in a "locker" the fact that it is done and open for abuse is a problem for the reputation of Google and other companies participating in this program.

from a SEO perspective ... (1)

techneeks (1374735) | about a year ago | (#44044111)

can you get "google" and "first amendment" into this post more often and still have it make sense?

Our heroes...right (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44044391)

I love how all these companies who had no qualms about collecting our personal data and slinging it to anyone with a paycheck have all of a sudden become Constitutional warriors.

Re:Our heroes...right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044499)

And you have 1 person to thank for this 180 (well...135?).

Still Hypocritical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044445)

Regardless of what Google is doing publicly to save face, they are still data mining much like the NSA with the little difference that Google is a private company and doesn't "have" to adhere to the same retention laws as a government entity. While NSA may collect all kinds of data off the wire, they are only allowed to keep it for a certain amount of time depending on how they classify the data (citation needed, and the time frame doesn't much matter for the sake of my argument). Google on the other hand, announced it will PERMANENTLY retain all of your browsing history (through Chrome, or through browser history when logged in to a Google/Gmail account) so that they can advertise more specifically to your trends, show you videos you'll like on YouTube, and other bogus lines. Oh, and your Android devices, yea, EVERYTHING there is logged.

Google, give up the charade, or perhaps even live up to the "don't be evil" you once thought you would live by. Stop mining data. It's not okay.

Re:Still Hypocritical (2)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#44045325)

What a snivelling, imbecilic asshole you are. You don't like Google? Don't use them! I don't. You don't trust YouTube? Don't use it! Gmail? There's other (free even) email providers; don't use it! Android? CyanogenMod! Yeah, you'd get so much better consideration from Microsoft or Apple, right?

Idiot.

Treason (5, Insightful)

lew2048 (2571805) | about a year ago | (#44044483)

Our government unilaterally rewrote the basic agreement between We, the People who are sovereign, and the government which is supposed to report to us. As a result, no citizen can understand the reasons behind the actions of his Representatives or the government. Thus, the government is sovereign as We, the People, have no control of it. This is treason. This is the functional equivalent to a coup, kept secret by the people who did it. We cannot allow the government to engage in anything that require secrecy, or we will be in this situation again. So, time to become a neutral nation the way the guys who wrote the Constitution intended. Bring the troops home and repudiate all of the treaties that allow them to be overseas. Repeal the acts enabling our NSA, CIA, FBI and FISA, as these are all more dangerous to us as citizens than anything they purport to protect us against. Purge the Department of Justice, which seems to exist to write memos justifying obviously bogus interpretations of laws and the Constitution. Remove every person from government who knew about, and did nothing to oppose, any episode of torture, drone attacks on US citizens, or any of this spying, Un-elect all Representatives who knew about and did nothing to oppose these things. Anything less than this, the coup will ultimately succeed.

No Mischaracterization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044563)

The leaked documents clearly show the NSA requested broad data collection from Verizon. End of history.

US Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044619)

I think its BULLSHIT that a corporation should even seek to be protected by the US Constituion that was written to protect citizens of this country, not corporations. Corporations have priviledges, not rights. Google continues to push us around like its a citizen seeking acceptance in a world where people matter.

Re:US Constitution (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44044893)

I think its BULL that a corporation should even seek to be protected by the US Constituion that was written to protect citizens of this country, not corporations. Corporations have priviledges, not rights.

The 1st Amendment is written as a negative right, by which I mean it prohibits the government from doing certain things ("Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ..."). It is not written as a positive right, like "people shall have the right of freedom of speech". It's good that it's written that way as otherwise it wouldn't protect news organizations, which are often corporations. It's also important because Freedom of Speech means not only the right to speak, but the right to listen to what anyone or anything (even "artificial persons") has to say.

This does not mean that I'm a supporter of things like the Citizens United decision, which I think is one of the most absurdly corrupt decisions the court has ever issued. The problem there though, and with many of the other decisions on campaigns and financing, is that it takes the "money = speech" idea to absurd extremes. If money is speech, does that mean that I have a Constitutionally protected right to hand my congresscritter a suitcase full of unmarked bills?

Re:US Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044977)

So an individual shouldn't be allowed to put on a TV advertisment for their favorite political person within 90 days of an election?

How is it NOT censorship? That is specifically what the Citizen's United case was decided on.

I find it amazing that people here on /. STILL are asking for censorship like this. You probably also think the IRS thing was ok because they only attacked and suppressed people you don't like. I have come to learn that liberalism = oppression of minorities. These days the oppressed minorities are people who think the federal government is too big and powerful and liberals think it is ok to use any and all power to suppress and oppress them at any and all levels.

Re:US Constitution (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44045307)

So an individual shouldn't be allowed to put on a TV advertisment for their favorite political person within 90 days of an election? ... That is specifically what the Citizen's United case was decided on.

Wrong on multiple levels. First, we're not talking about individuals as there is nobody named "Citizen's United". Second, you're only talking about the original complaint, which was arguably reasonable. However the "conservative" Supreme Court, which is supposedly dedicated to hearing cases about "actual harm" and deciding them on the narrowest possible grounds, engaged in an unprecedented act of procedural corruption by asking the plaintiff to go back and tremendously broaden the scope of the complaint. That allowed our "conservative" Supreme Court, which is ever so critical of an activist judiciary, to effectively create their own case to decide based on their ideology.

If the government did nothing wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045003)

Then they should have nothing to fear. Right? Isn't that what they have been telling us.

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