Carney: White House 'aware' of letters from tech companies on NSA program

White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed Wednesday that White House officials had seen the statements issued by Google, Facebook and other major tech companies that urged the administration to let them disclose details about national security requests for users' data.

"We have seen the letters from Google and other companies and understand that they have questions about how we can best talk about these programs moving forward," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One, according to a pool report.
Carney did not say anything further about the White House's reaction to the requests and referred further questions to the Justice Department and FBI, which are currently reviewing Google's letter.

"But we're certainly aware of the letters," he added.

Tech companies have been on a campaign to restore consumer confidence in their handling and protection of users' personal data after reports arose last week about a National Security Agency program, called PRISM, that monitored Internet users by collecting data from top Internet companies.

In a letter sent on Monday, Google called on Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderComey's book tour is all about 'truth' — but his FBI tenure, not so much James Comey and Andrew McCabe: You read, you decide Eric Holder headed to New Hampshire for high-profile event MORE and FBI Director Robert Mueller give the company permission to release information about the number and scope of national security requests for its data. Google said the information would show that the company is not funneling massive batches of its users' personal information to the intelligence community.

Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft also issued statements that echoed Google's call to reveal information about the government requests.

"We urge the United States government to help make that possible by allowing companies to include information about the size and scope of national security requests we receive, and look forward to publishing a report that includes that information," Ted Ullyot, Facebook's general counsel, said in a statement on Tuesday.

A Justice Department spokesman confirmed that it is reviewing Google's letter, but did not share further details.

“The department has received the letter from the Chief Legal Officer at Google. We are in the process of reviewing their request,” the Justice spokesman said.

Brendan Sasso contributed to this report. 

This post was updated at 1:21 p.m.