Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) revealed that in the second half of 2012, it received 9,000-10,000 requests from the US authorities for sharing user data, says a report from Bloomberg. As per the company the requests concerning 18,000 to 19,000 accounts were related to issues ranging from local crime to national security.
Claims Made Last Week
As per the leaked information by a former computer technician, the US electronic surveillance program is much larger than what it is portrayed.
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Last week, there were reports claiming that companies like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:B), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are allowing National Security Agency (NSA) a “direct access” to their servers under the data collection programme called Prism.
The named internet firms denied the accusations saying they granted no such access, but they did share information on an official request.
After the incident, some of the companies also asked the authorities to allow them to release the data on the number of requests received by them.
Facebook Releases First
To calm the users, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:B) lawyer Ted Ullyot told on the company’s blog that they been granted permission to release all the US national security-related requests for data. The social networker revealed that, for the second half of last year, it received 9,000 to 10,000 requests for 18,000 to 19,000 accounts.
“As of today, the government will only authorise us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range,” he said. The Facebook has more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, so the requests from the official’s accounts for only 1 percent of user accounts, which is a tiny fraction, the lawyer added.
The requests relate to a variety of crimes like finding a missing child, tracking a fugitive, investigating an assault, terrorist threat etc.
Though Mr Ullyot did not reveal the extent to which the company has fulfilled the requests, but he did mention that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:B) had “aggressively” protected its users’ data. The lawyer said that the company rejects “such requests outright” or asks the officials to “substantially scale down its requests” or share very less data that what is requested.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) also released the volume data of the requests received from the government side during the second half of 2012. The software giant also mentioned that the requests were only a “tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Vice-President John Frank requested the authorities to take further steps, saying “Transparency alone may not be enough to restore public confidence, but it’s a great place to start.”