The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has moved to let communications providers publicly disclose what data the National Security Agency (NSA) took during its PRISM operations.
Attorney general Eric Holder and the director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced the DoJ's plans in a joint statement on Monday, addressing public distrust of the government and businesses following the scandal.
"Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data resolves an important area of concern to communications providers and the public," read the statement.
"While this aggregate data was properly classified until today, the office of the director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification."
News of the PRISM scandal broke 2013 when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to the media proving that the NSA was siphoning vast amounts of customer data from numerous companies including, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Apple.
The revelation caused concerns about the US companies involved in the PRISM campaign, leading key players including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Yahoo to demand permission to be more open about their involvement.
The companies issued a joint statement on Tuesday welcoming the declassification but they argued more work still needs to be done to ensure another spying scandal does not occur.
"We filed our lawsuits because we believe that the public has a right to know about the volume and types of national security requests we receive. We're pleased the Department of Justice has agreed that we and other providers can disclose this information," said the joint statement.
"While this is a very positive step, we'll continue to encourage congress to take additional steps to address all of the reforms we believe are needed."
The declassification is the first step in a wider set of reforms announced by president Barack Obama earlier in January. The DoJ confirmed that the reforms will allow companies to disclose key information.
"More detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities."
However, in a notable caveat, the DoJ said any PRISM data that remains central to US national security will remain classified.
The statement also indicated that the DoJ will implement other measures outlined in Obama's speech, but failed to disclose the exact details or timeframe.
"Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers. In the weeks ahead, additional steps must be taken in order to fully implement the reforms directed by the president," read the statement.
Many commentators have argued that the reforms outlined by Obama do not do enough to curtail European businesses' concerns.
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