On February 3rd, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft (including Skype), and Yahoo posted summaries of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests made by the US Government.
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole:
"Pursuant to my discussions with you over the last month, this letter memorializes the new and additional ways in which the government will permit your company to report data concerning requests for customer information. We are sending this in connection with the Notice we filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court today." [Source]
The numbers "permitted" are severely limited — to ranges of 1000; or 250 if National Security Letters (NSL) are combined with FISA court requests in aggregate.
Oh, and nothing about "new capabilities" can be reported for two years.
That seems like a pretty huge loophole, doesn't it?
All of the companies involved claim they want to say more. As Google states in its summary: "Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way."
Here's a fun thought experiment…
What do you suppose would happen if European countries passed transparency reporting laws requiring what Google says it wants to be permitted?