Saturday, June 15, 2013

Facebook Releases Data, Including All National Security Requests

The recent unveiling of the secret NSA surveillance program, PRISM, has really brought the topic of online security, and online privacy, to the forefront. Of course it only a matters of seemingly minutes that facebook and its massive amount of people data was brought into the conversation. 

It is still amazing to me that with all the personal stuff people put out there on the internet,  they still think there should be this "social privacy" umbrella that protects everyone when it's convenient to do so for them. So protect me when I need it, leave me alone when I feel like it, and give me total freedom to do as I please, however do something about "that guy" because he bothers me. Block his rights because I don't agree with him. You get the point. 

Well, with all the talk about what facebook is and isn't telling the feds, facebook's general counsel has released a statement regarding their decision, and policy, on releasing data to authorities:
For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.
With more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, this means that a tiny fraction of one percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months. We hope this helps put into perspective the numbers involved, and lays to rest some of the hyperbolic and false assertions in some recent press accounts about the frequency and scope of the data requests that we receive.
That doesn't sound so threatening does it? Is it the whole story, though? Would we ever really know for sure? You can read the entire statement over at the facebook newsroom.