Facebook releases data about NSA requests

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Facebook on Monday released data showing how many requests for data the company has received from the National Security Agency — at least, the range of these requests. From January through June 2013, Facebook received fewer than 1,000 requests for user content data from the NSA, regarding 5,000 to 5,999 accounts.

Here’s a table where Facebook shows the range of requests of National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Facebook also disclosed the number of accounts in these requests. Facebook is limited to reporting data in the range of 1000s. A non-content request would be information such as a subscriber name.

4Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch commented on the report:

The data we are releasing today should be understood against the backdrop of the transparency reports we have issued over the past nine months. Last summer, in the immediate wake of sensationalist and inaccurate media accounts of purported government access to Facebook user data, we published data showing that, in the last six months of 2012, a small fraction of one percent of Facebook user accounts were the subject of any government data requests of any kind, national security-related or otherwise. We subsequently released a transparency report for the first six months of 2013, which again showed that the total volume of user accounts that were the subject of any law enforcement requests was a small fraction of one percent. We continue to believe the information included in these reports was an important contribution to the public debate over government surveillance practices, but it was limited. We were not, for example, permitted to break down the data between conventional law enforcement requests and those related to national security, or indeed even to acknowledge that we had received certain types of national-security related requests at all.

Stretch noted that Facebook plans to update this data every 6 months.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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