Facebook, Microsoft Disclose Roles In NSA Spy Program, Google Skeptical

Facebook and Microsoft have disclosed information regarding thousands of NSA and intelligence requests. Google, however, has expressed reservations about the new allowance.

These announcements come after leaked information on NSA top secret data mining programs which have sparked a national debate over security and privacy rights. Among the information leaked was a list of well known internet and social media companies.

Controversy and user ire mounted as the public continued to learn about the data mining programs. This prompted several of the participant companies to begin petitioning the US government for user disclosure privileges earlier this week.

Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were among those pressing for the go-ahead from federal authorities to allow statements on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) related user data requests. These requests were granted Friday with Facebook and Microsoft releasing statements that night.

Microsoft’s vice president John Frank wrote that in the last six months of 2012 the company received as many as 7,000 law enforcement and intelligence requests, affecting nearly 32,000 user accounts.

Facebook stated that, in the same period, requests numbered to nearly 10,000 with around 19,000 users being affected. They assured users that far less than one percent of accounts were affected, given the 1.1 billion active accounts on Facebook monthly.

Google has stated their reservations about this new disclosure permission, however.


The recent allowance for disclosure by the US government is, Google says, actually a “step back” for users. In a statement, Google explains that the government included an important requirement for these reports: That all request numbers be lumped into a single figure.

This would actually be less transparent than the reports Google already release, they say. Instead of granting allowance to publish FISA requests, they would have to share all figures, from local police requests to FISA warrants, as a single number.

With Facebook and Microsoft now disclosing information regarding their role in the controversial NSA programs like PRISM, they hope to ease recent user concerns raised over how their private information is being used.

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