Jesse J. Holland
WASHINGTON — The government and leading Internet companies on Monday announced a compromise that will allow those companies to reveal how often they are ordered to turn over customer information in national security investigations.
The Justice Department said it had reached agreements with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn that would put an end to those companies' legal challenges before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The companies had asked judges to allow them to disclose data on national security orders the companies have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The delivery of customer information to the government from Internet companies has been under examination following leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.
Some of those companies were among several U.S. Internet businesses identified as giving the NSA access to customer data under the program known as PRISM. But the companies had said they wanted to make the disclosures in order to correct inaccuracies in news reports and to calm public speculation about the scope of the companies' cooperation with the government. The providers wanted to show that only a tiny fraction of their customers' accounts have been subject to legal orders.