MicrosoftMicrosoft general counsel Brad Smith published an unusual blog post today in which he describes how his company and Google, usually a fierce competitor, are united in a lawsuit that seeks permission to tell the public how much surveillance information they have handed to the U.S. government. The post says:
To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart. But today our two companies stand together. We both remain concerned with the Government’s continued unwillingness to permit us to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders.
... For example, we believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email. These figures should be published in a form that is distinct from the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address.
Microsoft and Google sued the U.S. government back in June, in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to disclose information about how it responds to requests by the NSA for information under FISA. The government asked for six delays in order to respond, and Smith's blog post today states that Microsoft and Google will no longer agree to such delays.
The two companies will now begin litigating against the government.
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