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Google Asks Federal Judge To Challenge National Security Letters 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-come-'round-here-no-more dept.
mk1004 writes "From Bloomberg and the Washington Post come reports that Google is petitioning a federal court to resist compliance with a national security letter from the FBI. This comes two weeks after the U.S. District Judge in San Francisco ruled that NSLs are unconstitutional because they 'violate the First Amendment and separation of powers principles.' Google filed a petition to 'set aside the legal process,' citing a provision that allows judges to modify or deny NSLs that are 'unreasonable, oppressive, or otherwise unlawful.' EFF attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying, 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google. So far no one has really stood up for their users.'"
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Google Asks Federal Judge To Challenge National Security Letters

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  • by Niterios (2700835) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:55PM (#43373421)
    Google living up to its motto?
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday April 05, 2013 @04:57PM (#43373441) Homepage

      Hurumph. I guess we have to divert our angst and hate to Apple and Microsoft this week.

      Things are just so complicated these days.

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        don't be silly... we ALWAYS reserve some of our hate for microsoft, and while i personally have nothing much against apple as a company (except they suck) i love poking sticks at the apple fanbois; they're a funny crowd.

        • Re:Don't be evil (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:40PM (#43373803)

          don't be silly... we ALWAYS reserve some of our hate for microsoft, and while i personally have nothing much against apple as a company (except they suck) i love poking sticks at the apple fanbois; they're a funny crowd.

          And there is nothing we could do to Microsoft that is as bad as what they did to themselves... Windows 8.
          Who would have thought they could top the suck factor of Vista..

          • by Dishevel (1105119)

            Vista was not as bad as Millenium Edition.

            • by abirdman (557790) *

              Vista was not as bad as Millenium Edition.

              And both of those were better than Bob.

            • Vista was not bad compared to pretty much any OS. The only people who think it was are people who have never even used it and just swallowed the negative hype of the media and other people who had never used it.

              Windows 8 is the best version of Windows to come out. Aside from the start menu (which is debatable), it's much improved over Vista/7.
              • Re:Don't be evil (Score:4, Interesting)

                by ImprovOmega (744717) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:38AM (#43377853)

                Vista was not bad compared to pretty much any OS. The only people who think it was are people who have never even used it and just swallowed the negative hype of the media and other people who had never used it.

                I used it. I had it on an OEM machine and that wasn't bad. I tested it at my workplace on a few machines and it burned us. Drivers had issues, upgrades were spotty at best, the addition of IPv6 on by default was an unpleasant surprise that our network didn't much care for, user account control was a constant nuisance for admin machines (less so, but still a relevant problem for users)... Essentially Vista was a warning label for all the things you had to do in order to prep for Windows 7. We did our prep work and Windows 7 wasn't so bad. But the burn on Vista meant that we didn't start our Windows 7 migration until our backs were against the wall on XP end of life.

                Windows 8 is the best version of Windows to come out. Aside from the start menu (which is debatable), it's much improved over Vista/7.

                Windows 8 is the best under the hood. Unfortunately Microsoft shit all over the interface in an attempt to leverage their market dominance on PC's to take over the phone/tablet market with a "unified interface". So yeah, it's basically a Ferrari with a Pinto chassis. It looks like we'll be running Windows 7 until it goes end of life now, and hope that Windows 9 doesn't look like such an abomination. And if we have to retrain 1000+ users on how to get to their programs so they can do actual work then maybe it'll be time at that point to examine replatforming options.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            To this day I don't understand all the hate for Vista... Can someone please explain to me what the problems are with it that AREN'T related to hardware manufacturer's refusals to provide new-driver-model-drivers for existing/legacy hardware when Vista was released? or to system vendors who oversold the stated CPU and RAM requirements in order to push out systems that were never intended to run under the rigours of the new O/S?

            Microsoft bit the bullet mandating the new more robust/secure driver model primari

    • Good for them. It's more like don't be evil ... and challenge evil when you see it. Now, if we can just get them to not support CISPA....
    • Re:Don't be evil (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jxander (2605655) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:22PM (#43373677)
      Seems like google wants to be Big Brother in all aspects of the term. Snoop, spy and record every facet of you life, while simultaneously protecting you from bullies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I wouldn't mind that, actually.

        The problem with the government is that they want to snoop, spy and record every facet of your life while simultaneously BEING one of the bullies and not really protecting you from the other ones.

        If Google does what you say, well, that's like government but done right. I'm not sure that'd be a bad thing.

        • "If Google does what you say, well, that's like government but done right. I'm not sure that'd be a bad thing."

          Say what?

          You need to keep in mind: one of Google's founders has stated loudly and publicly that YOU are not the customer. Their customers are the people who pay them for data.

          Google isn't standing up for YOU in regard to National Security Letters. It's standing up for its own bottom line. These government data requests are expensive and a hassle.

          This is one of those rare instances lately where Google has indeed chosen to not "be evil". But they aren't doing it for your sake, their doing it for thei

      • by alexo (9335)

        Seems like google wants to be Big Brother in all aspects of the term. Snoop, spy and record every facet of you life, while simultaneously protecting you from other bullies.

        FTFY.

      • Yawn. Techno-hipster cries wolf.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by briancox2 (2417470)
      They are buying evil emission offsets.
    • by bbelt16ag (744938)
      We Fight For The Users!!!
    • I think they are trying to be the least repressive option in a repressive regime. Kudo's to them. But the solution to "freedom of information" is not through google in the end, it is to create a private citizens network that supersedes government regulation. Perhaps governing itself or being anarchistic, the model has yet to be developed for it.

  • ... hate Amerikuh?

  • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:07PM (#43373527)

    Predicted that this would happen: http://news.cnet.com/Report-FBIs-snooping-did-not-follow-rules/2100-1028_3-6166015.html [cnet.com] absolutely nobody.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:10PM (#43373551) Journal

    Maybe somebody will listen, because, certainly nobody is listening to any of us poor slobs.

  • 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google.

    Google isn't a person.

    • by QilessQi (2044624)

      "Corporations are people, my friend." -- Mitt Romney, August 2011.

      • "Corporations are people, my friend." -- Mitt Romney, August 2011.

        "Soylent Green is people!" Detective Thorn, 2022 (Portayed by Charlton Heston, 1973)

  • Good for Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maow (620678) on Friday April 05, 2013 @09:26PM (#43375567) Journal

    Google gets a lot of hate and are often put into the same category as other big corporations, but they do a lot of work on keeping the web free and "open", and this:

    EFF attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying, 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google. So far no one has really stood up for their users.'

    puts them in a league apart from the others, even though they aren't perfect.

    I do dread the day they become "evil" like everyone else though; I expect it's just a matter of time.

    But so far, despite their mis-steps and their massive collection of users' data, they remain sui generis.

    • by fa2k (881632)

      It's not *just* out of generosity. It is in Google's interest to have users submit as much data as possible to them, and the users are more likely to do so if the government doesn't have easy access. It's a great thing nonetheless, but it just happens that there is a positive correlation between the interst of Google and that of the users.

  • What is a National Security Letter - is that Nicholas Cage and Jon Voight had with them in National Treasure?

    • by Mabhatter (126906) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:02AM (#43377157)

      It's like a search warrant.

      But it only requires a "government official" that is "investigating" national security.
      And they don't need a judge to sign...
      And the recipient can't announce they GOT ONE or any details...
      And it can't be challenged in court (cause you can't talk about it)...
      Although they are "reviewed" once a year per agency by some secret list of judges, somewhere... But no checks and balances are included in the law if the judges didn't like the results.

  • Support the EFF! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jay9999 (2889513) on Friday April 05, 2013 @11:17PM (#43376187)
    After reading over and over again in stories here about the EFF, and their work as one of the few organizations that really stands up for the common internet user, I finally decided they are really worth my support and I became an EFF member recently. It's eff.org/donate/ if you are interested in supporting them, too.
  • The whole NSL thing was for bullying small entities with the idea that their lawyers couldn't even talk to other lawyers about the letters. That stops working when you have an organized legal department like Google's that WANTS to picka fight. They probably have sacks of NSLs and have attached the "homework" that shows a large number X are really nothing more that police harassment or information not really allowed with normal warrants.

    All it takes is Google finding a judge willing to set aside that part of

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