The DOJ, in its brief, also argued the surveillance court doesn't have the jurisdiction to "broadly grant declaratory relief" requested by the Internet companies. The court has a limited and "specialized" jurisdiction, the DOJ argued.
The Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights group pushing for more NSA transparency, said it was disappointed in the DOJ's opposition to the company requests.
"We are disappointed but unsurprised to see the government opposing the Internet industry's plea that it be allowed to be more transparent with its users about the extent of the NSA's internet surveillance," Kevin Bankston, a senior counsel at CDT, said in an email. "The privacy and civil liberties community will continue to assist these companies as they press for their rights and the rights of their customers, both in the FISA court and in Congress."
Microsoft will continue to push for transparency, a spokeswoman for the company said. Transparency "is critical to understanding the facts and having an informed debate about the right balance between personal privacy and national security," she said in an email.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.