The Obama administration will for the first time allow Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other technology industry companies to disclose details about the surveillance orders they receive from the government.
“The administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities,” said Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in a joint statement today. “Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers.”
The change to the long-standing gag order comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s pledge to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs and to increase transparency.
“Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data resolves an important area of concern to communications providers and the public,” the statement reads. “In the weeks ahead, additional steps must be taken in order to fully implement the reforms directed by the president.”
Although Holder and Clapper maintained in the statement that the data had been properly classified, “the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification.”