BUSINESS NETWORKING TOOL Linkedin has joined calls for the US government to make openness a real part of transparency reports.
Linkedin has joined other internet firms including Yahoo and Facebook in launching transparency reports and in asking the government for the right to make them even more transparent.
A number of online services firms have released transparency documents, but they have also said that their disclosures are limited by government restrictions on how much information can be revealed in the reports.
Linkedin is the latest, and it made the request as it launched its transparency report. It said that the legislative environment is overly complicated and that this makes it hard for providers to provide a service that observes basic civil rights.
"We believe at Linkedin that the patchwork of laws governing government requests in the US is overly complicated, is inconsistent, and has not kept up with technological advances. Linkedin strongly believes that all data, whether analog or digital, whether stored on personal computers or in the cloud, is subject to full Fourth Amendment protection, no less than documents stored in a file cabinet or in a desk drawer," it said.
"This is why Linkedin actively supports the Digital Due Process movement and proposed reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act."
Linkedin has sent the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a letter with its request and its concerns that too many meetings have delivered too little progress, and has told its members about its plans in a blog post.
It said that it has filed a motion with the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court challenging the US government's gag orders.
"Make no mistake, we deeply respect and support the US government's strong interest in, and its obligation to protect, national security. However, this interest must be weighed against transparency and accountability. The bottom line is that we firmly believe that what we are seeking - the disclosure of the number of US national security-related requests that we receive - is consistent with national security interests, the law and our commitment to transparency," said Linkedin general counsel Erika Rottenberg.
"As a result, and given our inability to reach agreement with US government representatives despite our best efforts, we are left with no choice but to file a legal challenge to the US government's position."
Data requests made to the firm about its users appear to be few and far between. In the first six months of this year Linkedin received, on a global basis, government requests for data for less than .00005 percent of accounts. µ
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