Google publishes secret letters, says FBI requested subscriber information on specific accounts

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Google secret letters published
Google secret letters published

Los Angeles : Google on Wednesday published a series of eight National Security Letters ranging from 2010 to 2015 which are nearly identical in format and identify a number of accounts and specific time frame.

The letters expose how the Federal Bureau of Investigation secretly requested subscriber information on specific accounts from Google.

However, Google was unable to provide any evidence or suspicion to justify the request. Initially Google was legally prohibited from disclosing the requests but the ban was later lifted in 2013 after several debates. The letter lifting each so-called “gag order” is also included in the post.

The first report acknowledging the declassification came out earlier this year where Google updated the range of “NSLs received” from 0-499 to 1-499.

As shown in letters, FBI’s request is limited to the name, address and length of service for the given account.

But two letters also ask for details like “electronic communications transactional records”, which was the subject of some debate in 2010.

According to the debate, the records can include the IP addresses from which the service was accessed, but not the content of emails.

A controversial Reagan-era decree, justified all eight of the orders under Executive Order 12333, which authorizes a significant amount of domestic web surveillance.

Following the USA Freedom Act’s new classification guidelines, the Department of Justice has undertaken a broad review of the classification status of existing National Security Letters, which has resulted in a number of newly public data requests.

In Google’s case, each of the published letters was declassified in the last six months.

Google’s Richard Salgado wrote in the post, “While we are encouraged by this development. We will remain vigilant in opposing legislation that would significantly expand the universe of information that can be obtained with an NSL.”

Read the complete blog here: