Feds relax rules on disclosure of government surveillance

The Obama administration has changed its rules on how much Internet companies can tell their customers about the National Security Agency’s invasion of their personal information. The new rules allow the public to know the frequency with which the government seeks their information but still block disclosures of the content of the surveillance or how much information is collected.  The change of rules ends the lawsuit brought by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft. (The New York Times, January 27, 2014, by Matt Apuzzo and Nicole Perlroth)

The First Amendment Coalition was the first to join the lawsuit in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, organizing a government-access amicus brief in 2013.  (First Amendment Coalition, January 27, 2014, by Peter Scheer)

One of the terms of the agreement between the administration and the major players bringing the lawsuit may hurt start-ups in that tech companies less than two-years-old are prohibited from disclosing any specific information about government surveillance. No one using their services will be able to know they are subject to surveillance of their e-mail or chat exchanges for two years. (The New York Times, January 28, 2014, by Nicole Perlroth)