The release of information regarding “PRISM” has brought into question whether or not internet companies are being honest with their customers regarding releasing personal information to the government. In a move to deflate the hype in the media, Google has asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Security Agency to allow it to show the number of requests and releases of information to them in order to demystify erroneous information reported by the media.
Edwards Snowden’s release of classified information on last week has placed many internet companies in a vulnerable situation with their customers. The classified information which exposes the U.S. government’s ability to monitor telephone and internet usage domestic and foreign has many people crying foul because it violates their constitutional rights, while others are less concerned and view it as a necessity for National Security purposes.
According to a pole by Pew Research, 56% of Americans believe that the surveillance system is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, while 41% believe it is unacceptable. Consequently, these numbers have not changed much since a poll taken in 2002, after the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
Most Americans are willing to allow the government to intrude on their privacy to prevent terrorist attacks. Maybe Snowden should have taken a poll before releasing these classified documents, especially since it was done in the interest of the people. While there is a responsibility upon us all to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, anyone wrestling with the need to free their conscience by jeopardizing national security, should consider if their actions are helping or hurting the people. Is placing national security at risk an act of heroism?
Google and other internet companies have the challenge of preserving the integrity of their product after this leak.
“Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation,” according to David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer of Google.
Google wants permission to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including requests in reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Drummonds believe that this will show that their numbers fall below what has been reported in the press.
Present laws prohibit recipients from releasing information regarding FISA requests. Google insists that it has not handed over broad amounts of data, and wants permission to be transparent with the amount that has been requested and released.
Google is not the only internet company associated identified in the leak. The other companies linked to PRISM are: Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., AOL Inc., Paltalk, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Skype.
Google believes it is necessary to make public the number of requests and releases of information to deflate the hype that this classified information has caused and correct the misinformation reported by the media.
By: Veverly Edwards’