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Facebook and Microsoft Disclose Government Requests For User Data 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the know-when-to-walk-away-know-when-to-run dept.
wiredmikey writes "Facebook and Microsoft say they received thousands of requests for information from U.S. authorities last year but are prohibited from listing a separate tally for security-related requests or secret court orders related to terror probes. The two companies have come under heightened scrutiny since reports leaked of a vast secret Internet surveillance program U.S. authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and is needed to prevent attacks. Facebook said Friday it had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data affecting 18,000 to 19,000 accounts during the second half of last year and Microsoft said it had received 6,000 to 7,000 requests affecting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts during the same period." Meanwhile, an article at the Guardian is suggesting the government may have better targets to pursue than Edward Snowden. "[U.S. director of national intelligence James Clapper] has come out vocally to condemn Snowden as a traitor to the public interest and the country, yet a review of Booz Allen's own history suggests that the government should be investigating his former employer, rather than the whistleblower."
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Facebook and Microsoft Disclose Government Requests For User Data

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  • read carefully (Score:5, Informative)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @06:42PM (#44017695)

    If you read carefully, saying that specific requests have come in for 20000 users doesn't mean that there aren't other mechanisms in place to collect a lot more data without specific requests. For example, the NSA could be collecting data where Facebook's servers connect to the Internet. Past reports and disclosures on NSA activities (as well as the activities of other spy agencies) suggest that this is likely routine practice. Facebook doesn't even deny this, and of course even if they did, it's questionable whether such a denial was meaningful. In addition, it's clear that the NSA and other agencies actively collect data from all open sources that they can. And, of course, you have to assume that the Utah data center is going to be used to store something, and it ain't gonna be data obtained from just 20000 Facebook-related requests, because those would fit on my hard drive.

    So I don't know what these disclosures are supposed to accomplish. They really don't change anything. At the root of the problem is really that there isn't enough transparency and that people have lost trust. What we need and should demand is complete legal, fiscal, and legislative transparency on our spy organizations, what they are legally allowed to do, who sets limits on them, and how much we're spending on it. I don't see why understanding in such general terms what these organizations do should hinder their ability to catch terrorists. And if such disclosures really interfere with their capabilities, that suggests by itself that they are doing something they shouldn't be doing.

  • Re:read carefully (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @07:29PM (#44017963)

    doesn't mean that there aren't other mechanisms in place to collect a lot more data without specific requests. For example, the NSA could be collecting data where Facebook's servers connect to the Internet.

    Apparently SSL encryption at all of the large internet corps is handled by dedicated front-ends - and the network between the SSL front-ends and the real guts of entities like facebook, google, etc are all in the clear. That makes for a perfect location for the NSA to drop their sniffers in, no need to compromise any SSL certs at all, no forward secrecy, etc, just wide open traffic perfect for raw harvesting.

    And, of course, you have to assume that the Utah data center is going to be used to store something, and it ain't gonna be data obtained from just 20000 Facebook-related requests, because those would fit on my hard drive.

    I think that bears repeating - the NSA ain't building data silos (there are others, like one in san antonio, texas [nsa.gov]) that consume as much electricity as a small city for nothing. They are collecting literally tons of data on us, its gotta be coming from somewhere.

  • Re:Treason (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @08:16PM (#44018291)

    And the 25,000 brave drivers who died on the road, who can forget them. That's 2000 a month. We should outlaw automobiles.

  • Re:Treason (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 15, 2013 @11:32PM (#44019383)

    And the 25,000 brave drivers who died on the road, who can forget them. That's 2000 a month. We should outlaw automobiles.

    Terrorism doesn't even make the top ten causes of death in the USA. I say we think about spying on and data mining every single American when it does make the top ten or even the top one hundred and in the meantime we get to work on fixing the things we SHOULD be scared of (see below). The reason given for intercepting and recording all of our communications is obviously a con and yet so many are going for it so easily. I guess the fact that our government is spying on us exactly as a totalitarian govt. would do is a lot to take in. It's much easier to deal with if we make believe that it's done for our safety.

    Number of deaths for leading causes of death
      Heart disease: 597,689
      Cancer: 574,743
      Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
      Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
      Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
      Alzheimer's disease: 83,494
      Diabetes: 69,071
      Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
      Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
      Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/lcod.htm

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