Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook already publish regular reports on their compliance with requests from police and other officials for user information. But the U.S. government has limited the companies' ability to disclose information about requests related to national security.
Last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the government will soon publish its own reports with surveillance statistics. He said the reports will include data on the total number of secret court orders to communications providers and the number of people targeted in those orders.
But the four companies all said those disclosures won't be enough.
"The actions and statements of the U.S. government have not adequately addressed the concerns of people around the world about whether their information is safe and secure with Internet companies," Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, said. "We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe."
Ron Bell, Yahoo's general counsel, argued that the United States "should lead the world when it comes to transparency, accountability, and respect of civil liberties and human rights."
"The U.S. Government’s recent decision to release aggregate annual data about its requests for phone call logs and Internet chats was an important first step in this direction. Granting our petition for greater transparency around national security requests for user data is a critical second step," he wrote.