Microsoft and Google join forces to sue NSA over FISA transparency issues



Microsoft and Google have never been best of buds. But, when the 2 companies aren’t arguing over trivial things like who’s allowed access to YouTube, they’re joining forces to sue the pants off the US government. Why?

It has a little something to do with the NSA tying up Google and Microsoft hands when it comes to making public information relating to FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Long story short: they want to be more transparent, our Government says, “NO.”

Both Google and Microsoft have officially filed complaints back in June and according to them, they believe it’s within their constitutional right to be more transparent, and share much of this information with the public. More recently, Microsoft and Google met with Government lawyers and while it seemed that progress was being made, after several delays, talks ended in failure.

Microsoft’s Vice President of Legal Affairs Brad Smith mentions in the company’s official blog that, while the Government made a good first step — after allowing the number of security requests from the past 12 months to be published — there’s still more work to be done.

Microsoft (and Google) want even greater transparency that gives them the right to publish, not only the number of security requests for user content, but how many of those requests included even greater details like the specific text of an email. They feel that this is within their constitutional rights. Of course, let’s not forget that this would all be done in a way that wouldn’t put our national security at risk.

Smith goes onto to say that until both kinds of data can be made public, government cooperation is “incomplete”. But it’s not just Google that’s working with Microsoft, other companies are also backing the tech giants, who hope that Congress will give them the right to disclose this information to the public, and “ensure that Constitutional safeguards prevail”.

What do you think?

Should the US Government be forced to share this additional data? Is the Government already going too far with how much access they’re forcing large corporations to provide without the need for warrants? Where is all of this taking us in terms of privacy, the internet, and beyond?


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. They should shut up and act as good citizens. We are still at war with these islamists.

    1. You seem to be at war with intelligence.

      1. more like a massacre

    2. Can’t tell if trolling or just really ignorant.

    3. You’re a special kind of fucking stupid aren’t you?

    4. Since when have been at war with “islamists”? By and large, the general Islamist population isn’t a problem, it’s the extremists (in any religion really (like people of the Westboro Baptist Church)) that are a problem.
      What an asinine statement. Please tell me you’re 7 years old.

    5. Wish I could downvote this twice :

    6. Have all the responders never heard of irony. To me you’re the ones showing your stupidity.

  2. Microsoft and Google Play nice with Android too…to the tune of about $7 per Android device sold going into Microsoft’s pockets.

    Hope this works out thought, but I got a feeling this will just mean more hush money from the USA gov’t to them.

    1. I thought that was only HTC devices. and Google doesnt make money off sales, its ads and playstore

      1. Some other manufacturers too (I don’t remember which), but you’re right, Google themselves aren’t paying Microsoft anything.

  3. [obligatory conspiracy post]

  4. Absolutely agree and hope to see the companies involved in this WIN.

  5. Hope this doesn’t sound stupid, but make it a class action and let everyone sign up… I would join.

    1. That wouldn’t be a very big class. They’re asking to be able to publish detailed numbers of users the gov’t is demanding data on. Unless you’re running servers (email, messaging, etc) and are receiving demands for user data from the gov’t, you wouldn’t be a plaintiff.

      1. Very good point, I was thinking in terms of since it’s my information being demanded that I would have some say it were it is given. (in the information age I know I can simply forget that notion though).

  6. The government gets its authority to govern from the consent of the people under it. And for a citizen to give his/her consent, they must be informed. All these classified/top secret data collection programs and everything else nobody knows about should be unlawful because the citizens haven’t given consent to them, since they don’t know about them, plain and simple. Government has vastly and broadly overstepped the bounds as defined by the constitution, and through passing amendments and other laws to further a secret agenda the average citizen is unaware of, made things like this questionably legal.

    1. “All these classified/top secret data collection programs and everything else nobody knows about should be unlawful because the citizens haven’t given consent to them”

      FISA and the Patriot act have already been challenged(multiple times) in the supreme court and both have been deemed constitutional (multiple times). You can’t claim something is unconstitutional just because you have limited understanding of the constitution. Your interpretation of the constitution does not matter. No one should have a reasonable expectation of privacy when sending information over a public/global network(unencrypted)…

      1. The U.S. Government and the Supreme Court have limited understanding of the constitution. They change its meaning to suit their own needs. They used 9/11 as an excuse to violate the constitution and people have allowed it because they think they are safer.

      2. Not entirely correct. Everytime someone challenges the Patriot Act in the courts, the gov’t either claims the person (or company) has no standing to sue (since receipients of National Security Letters and the like aren’t allowed to say they’ve received one, thus can’t prove their standing) or refuses to provide information based on national security (making it impossible for the plaintiff to make a case). The Patriot Act continues to go unchallenged because the suits are prevented from going anywhere.

  7. It has been proven time and time again that information is power. This is clearly a power struggle and both sides, the government and corporations, need to remember that the power is given by the people. Whatever the decision, the people MUST be OK with it or it will not work well for either party.

    1. In theory. However, we the people no longer have any power, only the illusion of power (elections)

      1. George Carlin :)

  8. Google/MS: “Here’s a court order for you to stop spying on our users.”
    NSA: “OK we’ll stop spying.”
    NSA: *Looks left, looks right* “Are they gone? Yeah. OK start it back up.”

  9. Islamists? As opposed to the Christianists and Jewishists?

    I’m just going to assume you are being sarcastic. Lol

  10. Wait, I thought corporations ran the government? If they want more transparency, why don’t they just make it so? Or tell the government to f off :P

  11. i think the nsa should start sending info on who’s sharing copyrighted content illegally – they have all the info already. i mean, they’re already sharing data with the dea about drug dealers. and why stop there, why not a war on pornographers and even track people’s driving habits to catch speeders too. let’s make america really safe – no half way measures!

    1. america? the us is not even 1/4 of america

    2. “Speeders” aren’t killing people on our streets, it’s drinkers who drive into oncoming traffic, people texting that drive through stop signals, and really anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car and doesn’t make driving their first priority.
      What the hell would a war on pornographers help?

    3. Pornography is legal, may be illegal for juveniles like yourself. While you are at your aim for small government trash the bill of rights, because without that it is hard for the NSA and the federal government to make US citizens enemy of the state.

  12. The Matrix has you…..follow the white rabbit…

  13. Just logging back in…

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