Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is facing a major public-relations backlash surrounding its official statement about its alleged involvement in the secret National Security Agency PRISM data-collection and surveillance project. We made a brief little side note about this when we reported on the various official statements made by some of the major tech companies who were implicated in the surveillance. We had noted that several of the companies were very firm in their statements that they did not agree to allow the NSA unfettered access to servers where users’ personal data was stored.
However, we did note that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) gave statements that were less than firm, and in fact seemed to open the door to some scrutiny. Turns out, there might have been something to their comment when they said they did not turn over any personal data that “not legally demanded.” Uh-huh. Well, after that non-denial denial, there is a report that has surfaced that says Google has written a letter asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller asking for permission to expand the recent allowance to publish information about data requests from government agencies, including the U.S. government under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) rules.
Back in March, the federal government allowed tech companies like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to publish aggregate reports on the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) each company receives from domestic and foreign government agencies. Now, Google his asking to expand the disclosure permission to include the number of requests made under FISA rules as part of a breakout of the number of overall U.S. NSLs, plus information about the scope of each letter.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) legal counsel said in its letter that with the company not being allowed to disclose more specific information about thre NSLs it receives, it has engendered rumors and innuendo that Google has been complicit in allowing the government open access to user information files, which the company contends is “not true.” Essentially, it seems that Google is trying to convince the government to help it make its case that it has not played an active role in the NSA’s PRISM operation. Google wrote that it has “consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users’ data.”
What do you think? Is this just cover for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) in terms of its PR, or is this something more? Let us know your thoughts in he comments section below.