Monday, March 11, 2013

Google reveals warrantless FBI data requests access to 2,000 Google accounts

The FBI attempted to get data on more than a thousand Google accounts last year without a warrant, Google has revealed. Instead, the Bureau used a procedure known as a National Security Letter - which Google has never before discussed in detail.

A report on The Wall Street Journal quoted Google as saying the FBI used a "national security letter" instead of a warrant to ask for the details.

"Google said it received between zero and 999 NSLs in 2012 and that the letters sought information on a total of 1,000 to 1,999 users or accounts. (The number of users suggests Google got at least one NSL last year, not zero, but the company wouldn’t comment beyond its report),"

"The secrecy surrounding national security letters means that Google’s report is remarkable even though it provides only vague information,"

Google is the first Internet company to reveal such data, the WSJ report noted.

With the national security letters, the government may seek financial, phone and Internet data without going before a judge or grand jury.

Also, the WSJ report said the NSLs are usually subject to gag orders that companies "can’t even acknowledge getting such letters at all."

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