Google Says No To FBI’s National Security Letter, At Least This Time

fbiBloomberg News reports Google has filed a petition against a government request for information after receiving a “National Security Letter.”

The details of the requested information are currently not disclosed, as you would imagine. Bloomberg says it is rare for a company to fight back after receiving such a request from a government agency. Reportedly the push back from Google comes three weeks after San Francisco federal judge ruled that National Security Letters, which are issued without a warrant, are unconstitutional.

Again, there are no details on the specific government demand but Google did file a petition to set aside a “legal process” pursuant “to 18 U.S.C. Section 3511 (a) and (b),” according to a March 29 filing in federal court in San Francisco seeking a court order to seal its request. Petitions “filed under Section 3511 of Title 18 to set aside legal process issued under Section 2709 of Title 18 must be filed under seal because Section 2709 prohibits disclosure of the legal process,” Kevan Fornasero, Google’s lawyer, said in the filing. In fact, law prohibits those who receive National Security Letters from disclosing they have received one.

National Security Letters are not subpoena but rather a demand letter. It is most commonly used by the FBI when investigating matters related to national security.

Google did not comment on this specific matter. “We are in this interesting in-between moment in which the government is still able to enforce its authority,” said Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Washington- based Electronic Privacy Information Center. “I suspect that this filing is an effort to push the issue further.”

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Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Legal: Regulation | Legal: Security

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://twitter.com/BlueMorphFlying terry smith

    Everyone should get out of their existing email and into G-mail. Google’s lawyers are the only ones that will fight for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-L-Beyer/1455921541 Eric L Beyer

    Why not get out of cloud-based mail entirely? Host your own email and no one will have any information to turn over to anybody else. Or, second best, encrypt all of your messages with a long PGP key.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    Until the national strategy for trusted identities in cyberspace becomes a reality, in which case, Google might not do anything and could profit from it.

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