Facebook releases data on US security requests

US security-related requests in the 2nd half of 2012 involve between 18,000 to 19,000 accounts

MANILA, Philippines – In the aftermath of revelations on the PRISM surveillance program, Facebook on Saturday (Friday, United States time), June 15, released the “aggregate numbers” of US national security-related requests it received in the second half of 2012. 

For the six months ending Dec 31, 2012, Facebook received 9,000 to 10,000 user-data requests from US government entities, said Facebok General Counsel Ted Ullyot. 

“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,” Ullyot said. 

How many user accounts were affected by the requests? According to Facebook, about 18,000 to 19,000 accounts.  

“With more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, this means that a tiny fraction of 1% of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of US state, local, or federal US government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past 6 months,” Ullyot said. 

We hope this helps put into perspective the numbers involved, and lays to rest some of the hyperbolic and false assertions in some recent press accounts about the frequency and scope of the data requests that we receive,” he added. 

US laws traditionally limit the ability of Internet companies to release data on such requests. 

Facebook was allowed to disclose the data to the public as a result of discussions with US national security authorities for more transparency after revelations over a top secret program called PRISM that allows US agencies to secretly mine data from the servers of internet giants

Ullyot said the government agreed to release data on security-related requests but on certain conditions — numbers must be released in aggregate and as a range. 

Facebook, as well as internet giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, have repeatedly denied allowing US intelligence agencies to mine data from their servers despite the existence of the PRISM surveillance program. – Rappler.com


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