This was covered by the right to freedom of speech in the U.S. Constitution, google wrote to the secret court that releases such requests under the foreign intelligence surveillance act, FISA. Separately, network equipment maker cisco denied any involvement in surveillance operations that were.
Until recently, FISA requests were so secret that internet companies were not even allowed to confirm their existence. Following recent revelations about internet surveillance by US intelligence agencies, restrictions have been relaxed somewhat. Companies can now include requests under the foreign intelligence act in their statistics – but they are only allowed to give overall figures on official requests in a broad range. Facebook, apple, microsoft and yahoo accepted this for the time being and published general figures. But google’s rule doesn’t go far enough.
Since google has already been publishing detailed information on other official inquiries for years, this regulation is a step backwards for transparency, a spokesman said on wednesday.
In its application to the court, google stresses that it wants to use greater transparency to better defend itself against accusations that it gave the NSA intelligence agency unrestricted access to user information. "Google’s reputation and business have been damaged by the false or misleading media reports and google users are concerned about the accusations," the text, obtained by dpa, reads.
Cisco was forced to state that the network equipment supplier was not involved in the surveillance of communications of private individuals or government organizations. The company sells the same technology worldwide without special adaptation for such programs, a spokesman said in an e-mail to the financial news agency bloomberg.
Cisco was not mentioned by name in the most recent revelations. But bloomberg had reported last week of extensive cooperation between thousands of american companies and u.S. Intelligence agencies. It was also a question of intelligence agencies such as the NSA obtaining information on internet networks that made it easier for them to carry out surveillance.