Recently Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have petitioned the U.S government to allow for them to share the nature of their PRISM involvement in a means to be more transparent with their users. While on the surface the intent is noble, there’s also this amount of users threatening to leave or “riot” about the companies’ links with the U.S surveillance program. Maybe they would jump back to MySpace where they know the U.S government isn’t bothering with.
Apparently Facebook and Google got the greenlight to share information with its users about the user-data requests. The numbers only show how many, but not what they were looking for specifically as President Obama and other officials have stated that it was general foreign terrorist correspondence and the like. The queries also included law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level carrying out tasks such as finding missing children, tracking fugitives, investigating assaults, and of course national security. Both Google and Facebook released similar statements with the data saying that the inquiries ran “for the six months ending December 31, 2012”.
With Facebook, the number of requests ran between 9,000 and 10,000 with the number of accounts that data was requested and possibly pulled from were between 18,000 and 19,000. The number was of requests for Microsoft was smaller, but the accounts targeted were larger as it covers a much wider scope than Facebook. In their statement they received “…between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts…”
While the numbers don’t tell much, they give something as opposed to “We’re not reading your emails” and “We’re looking for terrorists” and it could be all concerned users will get. At most we can expect to hear the success these inquiries have led to. Actual results from these searches are likely to calm concerns more. It gives the impression of being worth the inconvenience to a degree.
Expect other companies to release their numbers in the coming days.