Google(s goog) has asked a secret Washington court to declare that it has a right under the First Amendment to disclose the number of security letters it receives under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Such letters, which the government uses to obtain phone and internet data about foreign nationals, are currently subject to an automatic gag order that forbids companies from disclosing their very existence.
On Tuesday, Google said it is filing a petition to the secret court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The petition, embedded below, notes that the search giant has already received information from the FBI to publish the number of so-called National Security Letters it receives — these are similar to FISA letters but cover US citizens.
The Google petition comes as a brouhaha continues to rage over the revelation of secret government programs, such as PRISM, that collect meta-data on phone and internet users.