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Microsoft and Google File FISA Info Requests
First Google and now Microsoft [PDF] have filed motions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in a quest to reveal information about secretive court orders they may receive.
“To promote additional transparency concerning the Government’s lawful access to Microsoft’s customer data, Microsoft seeks to report aggregate information about FISA orders and FAA directives separately from all other local, state, and federal law enforcement demands,” according to the company’s filing.
The Redmond, Washington-based computing giant published its first report on law enforcement requests this year, but isn’t allowed to say how many FISA orders it receives or how many customers are affected by such orders.
Both Google and Microsoft have been on a public relations offensive—with their in-house counsel playing leading roles—to counter media reports that a government surveillance program called PRISM allowed government agencies direct access to the servers of several U.S. Internet companies.
“Microsoft has sought—and continues to seek—to correct the misimpression, furthered by such inaccurate media reporting, that it provides the United States Government with direct access to its servers and network infrastructure and, thereby, indiscriminately discloses Microsoft users’ information to the Government,” the motion states.
The motion quotes extensively from a June 14 company blog post by deputy general counsel John Frank, outlining Microsoft’s efforts to get permission to publish more transparency data.
And—fun fact!—both the Microsoft and Google motions show that having security clearance comes in handy for in-house lawyers. At Microsoft, John Frank has Department of Defense Top Secret clearance “for the purpose of facilitating Microsoft’s interaction with the Government concerning classified matters.”
Similarly, at Google, general counsel Kent Walker has FBI Secret clearance, while legal director Richard Paul Delgado has Top Secret clearance with the FBI.