Google Inc (GOOG), Facebook Inc (FB), Others Reveal FISA Data Demands


Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and other technology companies have revealed a little more information about some of the government demands regarding the data of their users. According to Mercury News, this is the first time the companies have been able to do this since the U.S. government began using data to spy on people around the globe.

U.S. demanded data from at least 59,000 accounts

In all, the companies reported that the U.S. demanded information from 59,000 accounts or more under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the first six months of 2013. However, they also said that the number includes numerous accounts which are all held by the same person, which means that the number of people whose information they handed over is smaller than the number of accounts that were affected by the government demands. In addition, the companies note that this is a small percentage of the hundreds of millions of people who use their services.

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The type of information Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the other companies were allowed to reveal is different than the transparency reports we have been seeing over the last several months. Previously, the government had barred technology companies from revealing the number of data requests they had received under FISA. They had been allowed to report on other types of requests, however, like the number of National Security Letters they received.

Microsoft, Google, others push for reform

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) joined with several other technology companies last year in filing suit against the government. They were suing for greater transparency regarding the number of requests they receive from U.S. agencies. The decision to allow them to release the number of requests under FISA was part of a settlement in that case.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) General Counsel Brad Smith said in a blog post that they will continue pushing for reform regarding data surveillance in the U.S. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Legal Director Richard Salgado echoed that sentiment. Here are the numbers reported by some of the major technology companies regarding FISA content requests:

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG): 0 – 999 requests on 9,000 to 9,999 user accounts
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): 0 – 999 requests on 15,000 to 15,999 user accounts
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB): 0 – 999 requests on 5,000 to 5,999 user accounts
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO): 0 – 999 requests on 30,000 to 30,999 user accounts
LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD): 0 – 249 national security requests of all kinds
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): 0 – 249 national security requests of all kinds