- Facebook has revealed it received between 9000 and 10,000 requests for user data from US authorities in the second half of last year, as it seeks to shield itself from a growing scandal.
The requests covered matters ranging from child disappearances to petty crimes and terror threats and involved 18,000 to 19,000 accounts, the social networking site said on Friday.
It did not reveal how often it complied with the requests.
Facebook “aggressively” protects its users’ data, company general counsel Ted Ullyot said in a statement. “We frequently reject such requests outright, or require the government to substantially scale down its requests, or simply give the government much less data than it has requested. And we respond only as required by law,” he said.
Facebook is fighting a growing public backlash after a government contractor revealed it was among nine internet giants that turned over user data to the secret National Security Agency surveillance program PRISM.
The companies, which include Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have denied claims the agency could directly access their servers.
US authorities have said the program helped prevent terrorist attacks.
Facebook said it was able to report all US national security-related requests, which no company had previously been allowed to do, after pressing the government to release more details about the program.
But, for now, it said, the government would allow Facebook to provide the numbers only in aggregate form and as a range.
Google asked the FBI and US Justice Department this week for permission to release numbers related to its handling of data for the leaked surveillance programs, saying it has “nothing to hide”.
The company’s “transparency report” on government requests does not include national security requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorised PRISM.
Leaker Edward Snowden, who worked as a subcontractor handling computer networks for the agency, is in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, where he has vowed to contest any possible extradition in court – AFP

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