Microsoft Wants to Disclose Data on FISA Orders


Microsoft is asking a court to let it disclose data on national security orders the company has received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Microsoft made the request in a motion that was filed June 19 with the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and unsealed this week.

The company’s action comes after Google filed a similar motion asking permission to disclose the number of data requests that come from secret orders approved by the court. Both companies argued that they should be allowed to do so under the First Amendment.

Google and Microsoft were among several U.S. internet companies identified as having given the National Security Agency access to customer data under the program known as Prism. Microsoft says it wants to correct misimpressions about what it provides to the government.

Revelations by former NSA contractor Ed Snowden about the program have prompted a broader debate about government monitoring and the privacy of Americans’ communications.

In its motion, Microsoft said it has sought to correct the misimpression “that it provides the United States government with direct access to its servers and network infrastructure and, thereby, indiscriminately discloses Microsoft users’ information to the government.”

The company said it had received permission from the FBI and the Justice Department to publish aggregate data that includes FISA orders along with law enforcement requests from all other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. But Microsoft says it wants to be able to report the FISA orders separately, which it has not received permission to do.

Microsoft said that national security laws do not prohibit it from disclosing the data, and if the laws did, that would violate the First Amendment.