The Justice Department announced on Monday that companies will be allowed to publish the number of requests received under a program that forces them to reveal customer information under gag orders. This could potentially alleviate feuds between the government and tech companies that is happening in front of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
This spy court is the one that grants the rights to NSA surveillance orders. The Justice Department released a draft order that calls for the dismissal of lawsuits that have been filed by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! Google and Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department last year and demanded the right to include FISA letters in their transparency reports, which shows how many times the government has requested information through search warrants and National Security documents.
The government argued that technology companies should not be able to disclose how many letters they receive based on repercussions involving enemies learning about surveillance practices. However, the decision by the Justice Department came from President Obama’s desire for an open government.
The companies can report the numbers in a 0-999 figure for all FISA letters or report the FISA letters with other type of security requests.