Google says it wants to disclose FISA requests

Updated 6:26 PM ET

Google says it has nothing to hide and wants to make data requests it gets from the U.S. government public.

In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller Tuesday, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said that the company has consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for users' data and that it wants permission from the government to publish requests that are barred by nondisclosure agreements. The Associated Press reported late Tuesday afternoon that Microsoft Corp. and Facebook have joined rival Google in wanting to become forthcoming regarding the government requests.

"Last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests," Drummond wrote.

"Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users' data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation."

Last week, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI have a direct line to the central servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple -- as part of a surveillance program called PRISM. All of the companies involved have issued statements denying participation in any program that gives direct access to the government.

Google CEO Larry Pageissued a statement on Fridaysaying that the company was not a part of a government program and that they had not heard of PRISM until last Thursday. Page made a call for more government transparency. Drummond's statement echoes his comments and added that the company is asking the government for permission to disclose more data in Google's Transparency Report.

"Google's numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide," Drummond wrote.

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