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Facebook Exposes NSA Data Requests

June 14, 2013

Facebook NSA requests

By Gilbert Falso :: 11:17 PM

Facebook, the recipient of increasing user backlash over its participation in the recently-leaked PRISM government data gathering program, has worked out an arrangement with the federal government to release some basic information about the requests it has received for user data.

The social network had asked government officials for the ability to be more transparent with users when it comes to government orders to hand over data. In a surprising move, the government has agreed to limited sharing of information about federal requests.

According to data reported by Facebook (in aggregate form only – the agreement does not allow Facebook to get too specific), in the second half of last year, the company fielded between 9,000 and 10,000 government requests for user data. This includes government requests from all levels, federal, state, and local entities. Those requests covered around 18,000 user accounts. The social network confirmed that it complied with the government requests in a majority of the cases, about 80%.

Being able to release even this basic information, “is progress,” Facebook’s general counsel Ted Ullyot told the Los Angeles Times, “but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency.”

Facebook is not the only company seeking permission to disclose records of how many times it has provided user data to the government. Currently Google and Microsoft are both in similar talks. Earlier in the week, Google’s leadership drafted anopen letter this week to Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to give it the search giant more leeway to share the types of data requests it has received.