Gov loosens data grip, tech companies given go-ahead for better transparency

As NSA-related news continued to surface, consumers demanded transparency and tech companies felt the heat. Bound on one end by the government and hounded on the other by users, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and similar formed a coalition to reform government surveillance, all the while seeking permission to increase the numbers it is allowed to publish. A legal battle was ignited, and today the Department of Justice announced a settlement of sorts.

The Department of Justice announced today the go-ahead for tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, to publish a more detailed picture of the requests they receive, something the companies and advocates alike have praised as a solid first step. Henceforth, such companies have been given permission to publish numbers on consumer accounts requested.

With this change, tech companies can now detail National Security Letters numbers within a band of 1000, while all National Security Requests as a whole can be detailed in bands of 250. All reports have to be six months after the reporting period, meaning the second half of 2014 will be reported in transparency reports published in summer 2015.

Said the tech companies in a joint statement: "We filed our lawsuits because we believe that the public has a right to know about the volume and types of national security requests we receive. We're pleased the Department of Justice has agreed that we and other providers can disclose this information. While this is a very positive step, we'll continue to encourage Congress to take additional steps to address all of the reforms we believe are needed."