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Facebook and Microsoft Disclose Government Requests For User Data 140

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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  • Treason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 15, 2013 @06:26PM (#44017627)

    "[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"

    No. The people responsible for spying on American citizens are the ones who have betrayed their country and the public interest. They're the ones who should be caught, tried, and imprisoned. Government officials who violate the US constitution are traitors. People like Snowden are heroes.

  • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @06:35PM (#44017665)

    "[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"

    I simply cannot wrap my head around this. How is it in public's interest to be constantly surveiled in violation of the bill of rights?

  • money siphoning (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @06:45PM (#44017717) Homepage Journal

    well.. if nothing else it's highly relevant that the programs work pretty much as a funds siphoning device(in addition to being secret, useless and rights infringing).

    you would think that if they had any brains they would legislate such programs to be done with governmental employees only, no? wouldn't it make sense that only military/police/nsa personnel would be allowed to work on the project? 200k/year for technicians! imagine how much the company was billing the government for that 200k - put it at mildly at 400k. for a technician in a role they shouldn't be buying from a private contractor in the first place in a project that should not be touched by private contractor hands in the first place.. now it runs on basis of "hey here's xxx million - do what you please with it! hire friends! give stupid support contracts!".

    you know what's worse than a spy program? a spy program ran by dicks for money. it's as stupid as hiring your own veterans as private contractors for military operations.

  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @06:45PM (#44017719) Homepage

    Wait. I thought Snowden was a liar. So how could he be a traitor to [USA] public interest?

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @07:01PM (#44017809)
  • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @07:01PM (#44017811)

    What are all of the three letter agencies so afraid of? I mean, If they aren't doing anything wrong they shouldn't be concerned with some reasonable transparency. As long as they don't have anything to hide, right?

    Its always amazing how some federal agencies seem to think it is so important to have unfettered access to others information so they can "keep a vigilant eye out" yet they so detest anyone making sure that their own activities remain above board. Especially in light of the obvious revolving door between the private sector companies which stand to make billions, and the three letter agencies dolling out those fees. As noted in the Guardian article James Clapper the current director of National Intelligence, one of the loudest voices of "disapproval" against Snowden's actions, was Vice-President of Booz Allen Hamilton not too long ago. That coupled with his lies to congress in regards to these programs............ If we're looking for traitors I'm far more concerned with the ones who are fleecing the American taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars and lying to government inquests than one individual who released classified documents in an attempt to inform the public about possibly illegal acts.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @07:03PM (#44017831)

    I simply cannot wrap my head around this. How is it in public's interest to be constantly surveiled in violation of the bill of rights?

    It gets better. Mr. Clapper said, under oath and before Congress, that Snowden "didn't have the access" necessary to make his claims. He then goes on to state that he's a traitor. Well... he's lying about one of these two things: Either Snowden had access to classified information and is a credible source... or he didn't have access, in which case he can't be a traitor, because he's not giving away government secrets, since he never had them to begin with.

    I suspect this is the NSA version of "We don't have a problem and we're working to fix it as quickly as possible," and by fixing, of course we mean throwing someone under the bus. Since Snowden is at the bottom of the food chain, we'll start there, and continue feeding people to the lions at progressively higher levels of the bureauacracy until the "problem" goes away. And the problem of course isn't that the NSA is doing this, but that they got pants'd by some kid. Remember, it's not wrong if it's legal! -_-

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @07:18PM (#44017889)

    I simply cannot wrap my head around this. How is it in public's interest to be constantly surveiled in violation of the bill of rights?

    That is what happens when the people in power become convinced of their own righteousness. It is not an evil plot, it is simply the natural result of fact that basically no one ever thinks of themselves as the bad guy. So if they are the good guys, then whatever they do must also be good. They convince themselves that any harmful side-effects truly are minimal (easy to do when the side-effects don't impact them directly) and are a necessary cost for the greater good.

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

    by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @08:24PM (#44018371)

    A lot of this "big scary NSA" non-sense is based on a misconception that just because the NSA is capturing this information means they're using it, or even looking at it.

    The fact that this information is easily available at all, and potentially without a court order, is a threat to our political system. You can be sure that the president gets national security reports on all major political figures, both allies and foes alike. Tax evasion, extramarital affairs, homosexuality, illegitimate children, drug habits, whatever are all considered security relevant and would of course be reported. And all of those also happen to be wonderful means for exerting pressure on people to vote his way or drop out of political races. This is too powerful a political weapon to give to the executive branch.

  • Re:Treason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 15, 2013 @08:45PM (#44018505)

    But what about 9/11 ? This country can't afford to lose another brave 2,000 in this war, or any more buildings.

    Oooh, is that what passes for insightful nowdays?

    US Casualties in Iraq -- 4488
    US Casualties in Afghanistan -- 2220

    If this country cannot afford to lose more people in wars, maybe they should stay out of wars?

  • Re:Treason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1000101 ( 584896 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:27AM (#44019919)

    People like Snowden are heroes

    Snowden himself disagrees with your assessment.

    Charles Barkley doesn't think he's a role model either, but guess what... he is. When people do extraordinary things, there is a significant chance that millions of people will hold such actions in high regard and elevate said person to 'role model' or 'hero' status. Snowden is a hero for the simple fact that he ousted illegal activity by a government organization. If the actions weren't illegal, but were just 'super secret', Snowden would be a traitor and should hang. But no, all he did was risk his own life to expose quite possibly the worst betrayal of trust the U.S. government has ever bestowed upon its citizens.

  • Re:Treason (Score:2, Insightful)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:39AM (#44019985)

    I'll get hate for pointing this out but then again common sense seems to be poison to the politically correct, but if most of your troubles are coming from one group, how about keeping more of the group from coming over and keeping a closer eye on the ones you got, how about that?

    You do realize that the majority of mass killings and other terrorist incidents in the U.S. have been the result of the actions of right-wing white male Christians, right?

  • Re:Treason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @02:23AM (#44020163)

    We had ample warning prior to 9-11. The FBI was even keeping track of Mohammad Atah while he was taking flying lessons in Florida. It was the higher-ups in D.C. who didn't take the threat seriously and refused to act on this information.

    Another example, the shoe bomber, who was thwarted at the last minute by passengers. His father had grown suspicious about his son, and warned the U.S. embassy in his country. Another real lead that was not followed up on.

    After every successful terrorist attack, there is always some soul searching about how this attack could have been prevented. I don't see how spying on Americans by default would have changed things on 9-11. In the end, people have to make decisions based on the incomplete information that is available and chose which leads could be true threats and which ones are probably not. That's where the break down in U.S. security is; effectively interpreting the information available. Not that there is not enough information in the first place.

    If the U.S. really wants to be safe from Muslim extremists, the U.S. should focus on building better relations with the Muslim community. The first step would be to stop betraying those values we preach to others. The second step would be to improve access for young people int he middle east to educational opportunities in the U.S. through an expanded visa and scholarship program. The third step would be to improve primary and secondary education in the middle east. I know schools aren't as sexy as an armed Global Hawk drone. But the best information comes from people on the ground who are in contact with potential terrorists. If the U.S. were seen in a more positive light, we would get better information as a result. Lastly, intervening in Syria and taking sides in yet another middle-eastern civil war, is just plain stupid.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva