The internet is becoming more and more entangled with government snooping and government data requests than ever before, with major companies such as Google and Microsoft being asked to hand over sensitive personal information about or created by people suspected of crimes or other misdemeanour’s.
However, back in January both Microsoft and Google won a landmark court case which, in a nutshell, lifted a ban on the companies letting users know how many times the NSA (an American government agency notorious for its infiltration of the internet) asked the two companies to hand over data.
The court case was participated in by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo, who are all dedicated to protecting their customers from snooping.
“We filed our lawsuits because we believe that the public has a right to know about the volume and types of national security requests we receive. We’re pleased the Department of Justice has agreed that we and other providers can disclose this information. While this is a very positive step, we’ll continue to encourage Congress to take additional steps to address all of the reforms we believe are needed.” The tech companies said in a joint statement.
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Now it seems that Twitter is joining up in the ongoing digital privacy war, following suit with their own suit… a lawsuit that is.
“It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance – including what types of legal process have not been received. We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.” Twitter said in a lengthy blog post. Read it all in the ‘source’ link below.
The real issue of ‘broad inexact ranges’ is to do with how government gag orders require sites to be non specific with the amount of data requests they claim to have received. For example, if they had received 54 data requests, a non specific range or approximation must be used, as opposed to the exact figure. Ranges such as ‘between 1 and 60’ or ‘somewhere near 60’ must be used to avoid revealing the actual number.
The fight between the US government and tech companies isn’t a one sided one. On one hand, if tech companies publish the amount of data requests they receive from the government it clearly notifies ‘enemies of the state’ whether it’s safe for them to use that company’s services or not, which may affect whether they get caught in the act or not.
On the other hand, those who are not ‘enemies of the state’ have every right to know what their government is up to, as well as have peace of mind with regards to the safety of their personal information.
It represents an interesting conundrum which balances corporate transparency against keeping citizens safe from harm, both are equally important. But the real question is exactly where is the line drawn between ‘protecting the state’ by making data requests and ‘spying on citizens’ by snooping into their personal information?
As the battle of corporation vs. government rages on, finding a practical answer to that question is becoming more and more challenging.
Source: Twitter Blog