Facebook takes the big step in being the first company to reveal government data request numbers as well as include national security stats in their report.
Reports from yesterday cited that Facebook was in talks with the US government to allow it to disclose government data request numbers to the public. Well, it seems like the company’s layer Ted Ullyot made tremendous progress as Facebook has released a report that contains otherwise highly sensitive data (to the government). This is what the report contains:
- Number of user data requests received by Facebook from all government entities
- National Security Stats such as National Security letters and FISA
This is the first instance of a company coming clean on what the government is asking from them, and this is a huge step after the scandalous reveal of the secret PRISM government program. In case you aren’t up to date, PRISM is the US government’s initiative to spy on us, boldly put.
Here’s Facebook’s report:
For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.
With more companies having struck such agreements (Google, Microsoft and several internet companies), expect more of such reports to be released soon. However, these reports give us data which is nearly 6 months old, and for a period of 6 months only. Moreover, we still do not know any specific details of the requests made, rather just the number of requests. Hopefully transparency will prevail and more information will be released to the general public in the near future.