Google fighting National Security Letter
The letters, issued by federal authorities investigating national security concerns, prohibit recipients from disclosing that they have received them, let alone what they’re asking for. The Judge in Google’s case1 struck down the law’s gag order provision as violative of the First Amendment, but has stayed the effect of that decision while the government pursues an appeal.
I should note that I essentially paraphrased the Wikipedia article for that second sentence, as my knowledge of NSLs is limited. I look forward to reading more on them, and I’m glad to see a company with the clout and caliber of attorneys that Google has questioning the legality of the NSL framework.
At first glance, it may seem odd that a company that siphons so much data about its users would be so protective of it when the government is asking for it.
But it makes sense for Google to defend user information: it needs that information to make its advertising products more relevant, Many accept the trade of having their documents and emails scanned and anonymized by Google in exchange for exceptional and free services. If Google fails to protect that information from surveillance via legal tools of questionable constitutionality, the balance of that trade may tip too far for many users.
Thus, this is one of those rare cases where corporate goals and user concerns are aligned.