Technology

Facebook and Microsoft begin posting US Government data requests

 
Both Microsoft and Facebook have begun posting the data request figures that they have received from the U.S. Government, this after PRISM has caused many consumers to be alarmed about the privacy and security of their online data.
 
According to Facebook the company has received 9,000 to10,000 requests for its users data from various branches of the U.S. government in the second half of 2012. These requests equal to about 18,000 to 19,000 of its users’ accounts. This information was shared by Facebook after the company had reached an agreement with U.S. national security authorities about the public disclosure of the figures.
 
All of this attention is from the leaked files last week, outlining PRISM and the National Security Agency’s program.
 
Ted Ullyot, Facebook general counsel, wrote on the site’s blog late Friday:
 
“Since this story was first reported, we’ve been in discussions with U.S. national security authorities urging them to allow more transparency and flexibility around national security-related orders we are required to comply with. We’re pleased that as a result of our discussions, we can now include in a transparency report all U.S. national security-related requests (including FISA as well as National Security Letters) — which until now no company has been permitted to do. As of today, the government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range. This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency, so that our users around the world can understand how infrequently we are asked to provide user data on national security grounds.”
 
It was soon after that Microsoft released numbers stemming from government requests for data that it too receives. Those numbers announced were from 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security requests involving between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts in just the last six months.
 
In a statement Microsoft posted online:
 
“This afternoon, the FBI and DOJ have given us permission to publish some additional data, and we are publishing it straight away. However, we continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues.
 
Here is what the data shows: For the six months ended December 31, 2012, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal). This only impacts a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base.
 
We are permitted to publish data on national security orders received (including, if any, FISA Orders and FISA Directives), but only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; only for the six-month period of July 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2012; only if the totals are presented in bands of 1,000; and all Microsoft consumer services had to be reported together.