Feeds

LinkedIn joins Yahoo!, Google in squeezing gov for NSA request info

Dear [REDACTED]: Spies have [REDACTED] your profile

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

LinkedIn has joined Yahoo! and Google in lobbying the US government to let it tell the public how many super-secret requests from spies it gets for user data.

The career network said on Tuesday that it has filed a legal challenge with the US government to let it be more open about the number of spy requests – "National Security Letters" or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requests – it gets for the info of denizens of its network.

LinkedIn announced its attempt at broader disclosure alongside the publication of its semiannual Transparency Report.

From January 1 to June 30 of this year, LinkedIn received 83 Government requests for user data, 70 of which came from the US and 4 from the UK. It provided data for 57 per cent of the US government requests, and none for those from the UK. This compares with 48 requests for user data in the second half of 2012, 67 in the first half, and 73 in the second half of 2011.

This report excludes requests related to US national security, as these info requests are so secret that the company is not permitted to disclose them.

"We have been expressly prohibited by the U.S. government from disclosing the number of U.S. national security–related requests we receive, if any," LinkedIn's general counsel Erika Rottenberg, wrote. "This prohibition, which limits our ability to provide the transparency that we think our members and the public deserve, has been the source of great disappointment and frustration to us."

To spur disclosure, the company has filed an amicus brief in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that urges it to affirm that National Security Letters (NSL) violate the First Amendment.

It has also filed a petition with Big Brother the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking permission to public information on these letters.

At the moment, the Federal government is saying LinkedIn can disclose the number of letters it gets in batches of 1,000. As the site points out, given the hundred-ish requests it got from governments for data last year, the sudden appearance of a bucket for "0 to 1000 NSL requests" bucket might freak out members.

"We believe that this type of reporting defeats transparency, and in fact, would be misleading about the number of users affected by government requests, and could generate unwarranted concern by members and the general public, both in the United States and abroad."

With the petition and amicus brief, LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Yahoo!, which lodged a similar appeal with FISA in July, 2013, and Google which did the same in June.

But given the interlocking layers of secrecy involved in processes like this, it's doubtful that these companies will ever be able to tell us how their negotiations are progressing. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?