The Department of Justice has pleaded with a surveillance court to reject requests from technology companies to disclose data about how often the government asks for their user information, according to filings released on Wednesday.
The five tech companies – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo – want to publish the number of FISA requests to refute inaccurate reporting about their involvement in the PRISM program. Neither company wants permission to actually disclose the content of the requests.
According to a report by GigaOM, the DOJ said that releasing the information could “induce adversaries to shift communications platforms…which would cause serious harm.” The filings also argue that the disclosures would provide information to enemies about which companies the government is watching.
Negotiations about disclosures broke down between Google and Microsoft and the government in over the summer, GigaOM said, Google and Microsoft announced a lawsuit against the US government to give them the right to reveal more information about requests for user data.
Currently, the companies are allowed to publish the overall number of law enforcement requests, and many companies do so to promote transparency. Earlier this week, Microsoft released its second law enforcement request transparency report which showed Microsoft received 37,196 requests from law agencies between January to June 2013.
US cloud providers are concerned that the NSA spying program could be harmful to their business and make it difficult to acquire new customers. A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said that concerns around NSA surveillance could drive up to $35 billion of cloud business away from the US over the next three years.