White House, tech titans reach agreement on surveillance disclosures

The Obama administration has reached an agreement with a group of technology companies on disclosing requests for customer data in the cloud. But the agreement severely limits what the companies are able to disclose, and it fails to provide assurances that there won’t be further broad requests for data.

The companies—including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo—will now be allowed to publish information about the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders they receive for customer data. They will also be able to reveal more about National Security Letters (NSLs), the secrecy of which was weakened by the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act in 2006. Unlike Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, NSLs can only request metadata such as phone numbers dialed or e-mail addresses communicated with.

Since NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed the PRISM program, which gives the NSA and the FBI access to the data of cloud providers’ customers under a sweeping FISA warrant, technology companies have pressed the government for permission to share more information about disclosures in an attempt to reassure customers about their privacy. But the new agreement may not do much to soothe customers’ concerns, as it will still not allow the companies to reveal information about requests about specific customers. They’ll only be able to vaguely disclose government requests in increments of 250 or provide more specific information about the types of requests in increments of 1,000.

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via Ars Technica http://ift.tt/1gn5L5S

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