A court filing that has been improperly redacted and has recently been made public by the US Department of Justice shows that Google asked a US court to remove the gag order that accompanied the National Security Letters it received from the FBI, the WSJ reported.
The company argued that the gag orders violated the company’s “First Amendment right to communicate transparently with its users and the public regarding its receipt of the NSL”, but has failed to secure the wanted ruling.
When contacted, a Google spokesman declined to comment whether the company had anything to do with the court filing, but has reiterated Google’s desire for “the US government to allow more openness about their requests for user information.”
Both the FBI and the US District Court for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on the revelation.
Of course, this “incident” could be the result of a simple and unintended mistake by the officer of the court or DOJ employee who was tasked with redacting the document.
On the other hand, it could also be a way for the US government to take some heat off Google now that the belief that the company has participated in its PRISM surveillance program has become so pervasive, without actually having to legally allow Google to comment on it and, therefore, setting a precedent for other companies to petition for the same concession.