DOJ Shoots Itself in the Foot Identifying Google in Data Request Case

Sir Walter Scott warned long about about weaving a tangled web through deception, but apparently the Department of Justice (DoJ) and National Security Agency (NSA) aren't fans of old poetry. If they were, they'd drop the secrecy behind the PRISM program that whistleblower Edward Snowden blew wide open earlier this year. The truth eventually comes out anyway, as it did with Google's reluctant participation in PRISM.

Google wants to offer its users transparency about what's going on, but its hands are tied after the DoJ won a court ruling to keep the search giant from talking about federal demands for using data. Doing so would be a threat to national security, the DoJ argued.

Speak No Evil StarWars
Image Source: Flickr (JD Hancock)

Score a point for the DoJ, and then deduct 2 points for sloppy handling of court documents. The DoJ attempted to redact every reference to Google in the 10-page court document related to the case, but managed to miss an entry, publicly confirming what most already suspected in the first place.

“[Redacted] has a First Amendment right to communicate transparently with its users and the public regarding its receipt of the NSL," the court filing reads. "In light of broadly available misinformation about [redacted] receipt of and compliance with national security process and the concerns and questions of its users… [redacted] seeks to advance the public debate by taking reasonable, limited steps to increase transparency regarding its practices."

There are a bunch of references to the unnamed company throughout the document, though on page 8, the DoJ missed a reference to Google where it reads, "the public's already healthy interest in Google's receipt of, and response to, national security legal process skyrocketed."

The Wall Street Journal attempted to elicit comments from all involved, and not surprisingly, nobody is willing to speak about the matter.