On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that it was loosening the restrictions placed on tech companies concerning national security orders. In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder announced:
the administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities.
The deal allows the companies to report more detailed statistic on the number of national security letters and FISA orders received, although they still need to be reported in bands of 1000. If the number of NSLs and FISA orders are lumped together, that statistic can be presented as an increment of 250.
The deal also institutes a two-year delay on disclosures of data relating to the first order received by a specific company or service within the company. This is referred to as a "New Capability Order" because revealing data requests for the platform immediately would, according to the Justice Department, compromise surveillance operations.
The companies will be allowed to release the numbers every six months, with a six-month delay. So a report released at the end of June 2014 would cover the latter half of 2013. Apple has already reported that in the first half of 2013, they received between 0 and 249 FISA requests. In response to the deal, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and LinkedIn dropped their motion against the FISA court, and said in a joint statement, "While this is a very positive step, we'll continue to encourage Congress to take additional steps to address all of the reforms we believe are needed."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.