Microsoft and Google, joined by Facebook, Apple and other tech firms, have been fighting for months to ensure that the public is given a more comprehensive look into the private data that the government collects from them, and it looks like they’ve finally made some real headway. Bloomberg reports that the Justice Department has reached an agreement with the tech firms which will finally allow them to share the number of government data requests they receive with their users.
According to the official release by the Department of Justice, “the office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification.”
The full press release follows below:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 27, 2014
Joint Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on New Reporting Methods for National Security Orders
Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released the following joint statement Monday:
“As indicated in the Justice Department’s filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities. Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers.
“This action was directed by the President earlier this month in his speech on intelligence reforms. While this aggregate data was properly classified until today, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification.
“Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data resolves an important area of concern to communications providers and the public. In the weeks ahead, additional steps must be taken in order to fully implement the reforms directed by the President.
“The declassification reflects the Executive Branch’s continuing commitment to making information about the Government’s intelligence activities publicly available where appropriate and is consistent with ensuring the protection of the national security of the United States.”