Tech companies like Google(s goog) and Yahoo(s yhoo) want to disclose the number of requests they receive under a controversial surveillance program, but the Justice Department is opposing the demand lest “adversaries” change their behavior because they know the government is spying on them.
The whole matter is being hashed out before America’s secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but it looks like the process will take a little longer: on Friday, the spy court issued an order, at the request of both sides, that stays the proceedings until furloughed lawyers can return to work and figure out how to move forward.
In the words of the court, the whole thing is on hold until “Department of Justice attorneys are permitted to resume their civil litigation functions and consult with [the tech companies over] access to classified information.”
So, to recap: the government required tech firms to participate in a massive surveillance operation, is fighting in court to shut them up, and now the case is on hold because the government is too incompetent to stay open.
Here’s the filing: