LinkedIn filed a legal challenge against the U.S. government in the Unites States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Tuesday in an effort to publicly share information regarding the government’s requests for LinkedIn user data. LinkedIn reported the challenge in a letter to the LinkedIn community, and the professional network also sent a letter to the FBI.
The challenge pertains to government requests for user data “related to U.S. national security-related matters,” wrote LinkedIn General Counsel Erika Rottenberg. LinkedIn, along with other major tech companies including Facebook, Google and Yahoo, is not allowed to release information regarding such requests. “Make no mistake, we deeply respect and support the U.S. government’s strong interest in, and its obligation to protect, national security,” wrote Rottenberg. “However, this interest must be weighed against transparency and accountability.”
LinkedIn isn’t the first major tech company to challenge the government’s clamp on this information. Google challenged the court’s gag orders back in June, and Yahoo reportedly fought the NSA in court silently before information of the surveillance program ever leaked.
The legal challenge was announced in conjunction with the company’s most recent transparency report, documenting the number of government requests for member data that were issued during the first six months of 2013, ending June 30. The report, which LinkedIn has shared every six months since the beginning of 2011, covers all governmental information requests for user data, including international government requests.
The transparency report confirmed that nine different countries made a total of 83 requests for LinkedIn member data earlier this year. The United States government was responsible for 70 of those requests, and LinkedIn provided data for 57% of those requested by the U.S., according to the report. A total of 97 accounts were impacted by all requests made.
The total number of requests was up significantly compared to the second half of 2012 when there were only 48 government requests. But overall, LinkedIn’s request total paled in comparison to some of Silicon Valley’s other major tech giants. Facebook had requests for between 37,954 to 38,954 users in the first six months of 2013, and Yahoo had 29,470 requests for data related to 62,775 accounts.
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