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Techie News | April 16, 2014

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Tech giants reveal government data request details

Tech giants reveal government data request details
Megha Kedia

Leading tech firms Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn, on Monday published their reports which mentioned in detail the government’s snoop-data requests as part of its mass surveillance programme.

The tech giants agreed with the Department of Justice to release transparent information about the number of information requests the government made, including both the national security letters (NSLs) and requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The companies stated that under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the government demanded information of 59,000 or more Internet accounts in the first half of 2013. Company officials also said the request numbers represent only a small portion of their hundreds of millions of users, and include many cases in which a single individual holds multiple accounts.

As per the permission allotted to the tech companies, they have been asked to reveal NSLs and FISA requests into separate categories in bands of 1,000 and if they want to combine the categories, they can report in bands of 250, the Verge reported.

Google in its report mentioned it fielded between zero and 999 FISA requests involving 9,000 to 9,999 user accounts for the first half of 2013. Those numbers include requests made for “content” from those accounts, as opposed to requests for user names, email addresses and headers, or other information.

While Microsoft reported between zero and 999 FISA requests involving content for 15,000 to 15,999 accounts, Yahoo reported between zero and 999 requests involving content for 30,000 to 30,999 accounts. Facebook reported between zero and 999 requests involving content for 5,000 to 5,999 accounts and LinkedIn said it received between zero and 249 national security requests, of all kinds, for content from up to 249 user accounts.

Google was the first leading tech company to report about the government information demands, with Microsoft and others including Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn following the suit in recent years.

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