Search giant Google petitioned the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday for permission to separately report the number of requests it receives from the court, such as requests tied to the National Security Agency's Prism program, claiming protections from the First Amendment right to free speech.
The issue has been red-hot since former security contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of Prism to The Guardian earlier this month, including that Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, had given the NSA blanket access to phone records. The next day, The Guardian and Washington Post reported that a government PowerPoint presentation showed the NSA was "tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies," including Google.
Google has denied the accusation and openly called for the ability to disclose the number of national-security requests it receives from the court, known as FISA requests for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Current regulations only allow companies to disclose national security requests, which are classified as secret under federal law, by lumping them together with all other requests from local police and other agencies. Companies said they're also required to report the numbers in increments of 1,000.