Washington: Internet giant Google revealed that the FBI is monitoring the web and has requested thousands of inquiries into personal information of its users for a possible terrorist activity, but is not sure as to how wide the surveillance is.
The web giant has released this week data on so-called National Security Letters -- official requests for data under the Patriot Act passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Under the Patriot Act, if Google or others receive an NSL, the FBI can seek information about a phone or Internet subscriber, and the agency has the power to demand that the recipients of these letters remain silent.
Despite the data release, Google provided a very broad range of numbers for example, it received between zero and 999 NSLs in 2012 regarding 1,000 to 1,999 users/accounts. That`s the same number of requests it received in 2009 and 2011; in 2010, the requests pertained to 2,000-2,999 users/accounts.
Google law enforcement director Richard Salgado said in a blog post, “You`ll notice that we`re reporting numerical ranges rather than exact numbers. This is to address concerns raised by the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers might reveal information about investigations”.
Further, The Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a blog post that the letters are "dangerous" and has challenged the authority along with the American Civil Liberties Union.
(With Agency inputs)