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Google pleads with FBI and US government for transparency in wake of Prism scandal

Google has asked the US government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for permission to publish national security request data as part of its ongoing efforts to improve transparency.

David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer at Google, sent a letter to the offices of the Attorney General and Director Robert Mueller of the FBI, asking that requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) be published in Google reports.

“Google has worked tremendously hard over the past fifteen years to earn our users’ trust. For example, we offer encryption across our services; we have hired some of the best security engineers in the world; and we have consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users’ data,” Drummond wrote in his letter.

He said government non-disclosure obligations regarding the FISA national security requests fuels speculation about Google giving the US government “unfettered access to our users' data,” which he labelled as “simply untrue.”

Google is hoping that government approval of publication of the volume and nature of the FISA requests, which will be part of Google's regular Transparency Report, will show that “Google has nothing to hide.”

The move comes as Google is accused of involvement in a government-run Internet surveillance programme called Prism, along with other top technology companies, such as Microsoft, Skype and Apple.

Whether or not the US government approves Google's request remains to be seen.