Facebook, Microsoft Unveil Thousands of User Data Requests

Just "a tiny fraction of 1% of our user accounts" targeted: social network

By Matt Cantor,  Newser User

Posted Jun 15, 2013 6:04 AM CDT
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(Newser) – In the second half of last year, Facebook got between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from local, state, and federal officials for user data on 18,000 to 19,000 accounts, the company says. It complied with 79% of the requests, it says. Under fire, Facebook released the data in an effort to clarify its role in the PRISM program, the Los Angeles Times notes. The company had asked officials "to allow more transparency and flexibility around national security-related orders we are required to comply with," says a Facebook rep. The AP reports that Facebook and Microsoft reps last night said their negotiations had yielded fruit: permission to make new but still very limited revelations about government orders to turn over user data.

"These requests run the gamut—from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child ... to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat," the Facebook rep says, noting that "a tiny fraction of 1% of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of US state, local, or federal US government requests." But Google says Facebook isn't going far enough in its revelations, with a spokesman calling on the social network to "differentiate between different types of government requests"; Google is seeking permission to "publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately," it says. Microsoft, meanwhile, says it received "between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts," CNN reports.

In this Jan. 15, 2013 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters.
In this Jan. 15, 2013 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
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