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Friday, August 30, 2013
Microsoft And Google Sued The U.S. Government Over Data Request Transparency

There are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart but today the two companies stand together against the U.S. government's unwillingness to permit the companies to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders.

Each company filed suit in June to address this issue, according to Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.

"We believe we have a clear right under the U.S. Constitution to share more information with the public. The purpose of our litigation is to uphold this right so that we can disclose additional data," Smith said.

On six occasions in recent weeks the two companies agreed with the Department of Justice to extend the government's deadline to reply to these lawsuits. But the discussions ended in failure.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government announced that it would begin publishing the total number of national security requests for customer data for the past 12 months and do so going forward once a year.

Google and Microsoft believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email.

"These figures should be published in a form that is distinct from the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address. We believe it?s possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk. And unless this type of information is made public, any discussion of government practices and service provider obligations will remain incomplete," Smith added.

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