15 Jun 2013

Facebook, Microsoft reveal surveillance data

8:20 pm on 15 June 2013

Facebook and Microsoft have struck agreements with the United States government to release limited information about the number of surveillance requests they receive, as they struggle with the fallout from disclosures about a secret government data-collection programme.

Facebook said that it received requests for user data in the second half of 2012, covering 18,000 to 19,000 of its users' accounts.

Facebook is precluded from saying how many were secret orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Microsoft said it had received requests of all types for information on about 31,000 consumer accounts in the second half of 2012.

Google says it is negotiating with the government and that the sticking point was whether it could only publish a combined figure for all requests, Reuters reports.

Documents leaked to the Washington Post and The Guardian suggested the companies had given the government "direct access" to their computers as part of a National Security Agency programme called PRISM.

This triggered widespread concern and congressional hearings about the scope and extent of the information-gathering.