Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Latest transparency reports show steady rise in surveillance data requests

Zach Miners | Feb. 4, 2014
The latest round of reports come after an agreement between the government and tech companies about what information can be released.

The FISA figures are the first sets of numbers to be released since technology companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft were allowed last week to give more information about government data requests, following lawsuits filed by the companies. The deal, which was announced by President Barack Obama under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, was designed to provide more transparency about law enforcement and national security orders.

As a result, technology companies can now separately disclose the numbers of national security letters (NSLs) and FISA requests they receive, instead of lumping them together. The company can now also say how many of its FISA requests were targeted at the content of accounts, versus non-content information such as subscriber names. Apple already released new figures last week in response.

Unlike FISA requests, NSLs may not be used to request content and instead are used for things like names, addresses and length of service.

Previously, Facebook could only say that for the first half of 2013, the total volume of user accounts served with law enforcement requests of any kind was a fraction of 1 percent.

Still, even with these relaxed restrictions, the information the companies are allowed to reveal remains vague. For instance, companies are limited to reporting the data in ranges of 1,000, if they choose to break out FISA from NSL requests. For FISA requests related to non-content information, Facebook said the data was sought for between 0 and 999 users' accounts during the first half of 2013.

The companies said they would continue to advocate for reform of government surveillance practices and for greater transparency about the degree to which governments seek access to members' data.

Google said it still wants to disclose the precise numbers of types of requests it receives, as well as the number of users they affect.

 

 

Previous Page  1  2 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.