Saturday, 1 June 2013

Google Ordered To Give Customer Data To FBI

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A US judge has ruled that Google must comply with the FBI's demands for private customer data.
The internet giant had challenged 19 FBI letters asking for sensitive information on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and unnecessary.

But US District Court Judge Susan Illston rejected the company's argument against the controversial practice, which has prompted complaints of privacy violations in the past.
FBI counter-terrorism agents began issuing the secret, so-called national security letters, which do not require a judge's approval, after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
They usually demand data such as financial and phone records from telecommunication companies, internet service providers and banks.

Judge Illston ruled against Google even though she found the letters unconstitutional in March in a
separate case filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
In that case, she found that the FBI's demand that recipients refrain from telling anyone - including customers - that they had received the letters was a violation of free speech rights.
It was unclear from the judge's ruling what type of information the government sought to obtain with the letters to Google. It was also unclear whom the government was targeting.

The judge has put the Google ruling on hold until the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals can decide the matter.
Until then, she said, the company would have to comply with the letters unless it shows the FBI didn't follow proper procedures in making its demands for customer data in the 19 letters Google is challenging.

After receiving sworn statements from two top-ranking FBI officials, the judge said she was satisfied that 17 of the 19 letters were issued properly. She wanted more information on two other letters.
Google could appeal the decision. The company declined comment.

The FBI made 16,511 national security letter requests for information regarding 7,201 people in 2011, the latest data available.

Source: Sky News

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