LinkedIn has become the latest technology firm to launch legal action to try to expose how widely the US government is spying on its users.
The business-orientated social network has joined Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Microsoft by filing a motion to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking permission to reveal how many data requests it has received from the National Security Agency (NSA).
Tech firms are not allowed to say exactly how many user data requests they’ve received from the NSA under the now-infamous PRISM program, exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and now LinkedIn have all expressed frustration in not being able to reveal the extent to which they’ve been forced to hand over users’ data and communications, citing the mistrust it breeds with customers.
LinkedIn is estimated to have about three million monthly users in Australia.
Announcing its legal action, LinkedIn general counsel Erika Rottenberg said the company wants to be open about data requests.
“Despite our best efforts, we are still prohibited from sharing information about national security-related requests in a way that’s meaningful to our members and community,” she said in a blog post.
“So we’re left with no choice but to file legal challenges to the US government’s position.”
LinkedIn did reveal how many non national security-related data requests it has received from governments, mostly relating to criminal cases.
It received just one request about one account from Australian government agents in the first six months of 2013 – which it refused.
Globally, LinkedIn received 83 requests for data relating to 97 accounts – 47 per cent of which were granted.
The vast majority of the requests were made by the US.