The FBI National Security Letters are secretive requests for data from the US government that bypass the court process and come without a warrant to whoever is receiving them. Sounds pretty scary, right? As you could imagine, Google has been sent some of these letters, and they have fought to block these requests. Now, their fight seems to be dying with a whimper.
A California judge rejected Google's petition to have these letters (a total of 19 FBI requests for user data) thrown out or, at the very least, adjusted. However, the judge left the window open for Google to file a different, more tailored version of their petition that will address the specific letters they received from the FBI, instead of all of the National Security Letters in general.
About 300,000 NSLs have been sent out since 2000, and have rapidly increased after Sept. 11, 2001.