A US court says Internet giant Google must comply with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warrantless demands and turn over the data of its costumers for intelligence processing.
Judge Susan Illston rejected Google's argument that the so-called national security letters that the government issues to telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, banks and others were unconstitutional and unnecessary, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
The FBI began the practice of issuing the secret letters, which do not need a judge's approval, after the USA Patriot Act was passed.
The letters, which have sparked complaints of government privacy violations under the pretext of safeguarding national security, are employed to gather sensitive and private information including financial and phone records.
Illston in a ruling written on May 20 ordered Google to meet the FBI's demands. However, she put her ruling on hold until the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals could decide the matter.
She said that until then the California-based company should comply with the letters unless it shows the FBI failed to follow appropriate procedures in making its demands for the private data in the 19 letters Google is challenging.
The San Francisco-based judge said that 17 of the 19 letters were issued properly after receiving sworn statements from two senior FBI officials. She added that more information is required on two other letters.
The US Justice Department's inspector general in 2007 found extensive violations in the FBI's use of the letters.
The violations included demands without appropriate authorization and information that was acquired in non-emergency circumstances.
In 2011, the FBI made more than 16,000 national security letter requests for information about 7,201 people.