Google says the FBI is monitoring the Web for potential terrorist activity. But it can’t say how extensive the surveillance is. As official requests for data under the Patriot Act passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Google said it was only allowed to provide broad ranges of numbers: in the years from 2009 to 2012, for example, it received between zero and 999 requests. The requests affected between 1,000 and 1,999 accounts, except in 2010 when the range was 2,000 to 2,999 accounts.
The numbers, while inexact, were believed to be the first data from a private company about the National Security Letters which have been criticized by civil liberties groups for giving the government too much power to conduct surveillance without a warrant.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the letters “dangerous” and has challenged the authority along with the American Civil Liberties Union.