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Facebook got 10,000 requests for data from NSA in just six months (and Microsoft received 7,000 orders)


Facebook and Microsoft were able to reveal  limited information on Friday night about the government orders they have  received to turn over user data to security agencies.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said  in a statement that they had between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from all  government entities, from local to federal, in the last six months of  2012.

The orders involved the accounts of between  18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users on a broad range of surveillance topics, from  missing children to terrorism.

Microsoft said they had between 6,000 and 7,000 orders, affecting between  31,000 and  32,000 accounts, but downplayed how much  they had revealed.

The announcements come at the end of a  week  when Facebook, Microsoft and Google, normally rivals, had jointly  pressured the  Obama administration to loosen their legal gag on national security  orders.

The companies are still not allowed to make  public how many orders they  received from a particular agency or on a  particular subject. 

But the  numbers do include all national  security related requests including  those submitted via national security  letters and under the Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which  companies had not  previously been allowed to reveal.

The companies remain barred from revealing  whether they’ve actually  received FISA requests, and can only say that any  they’ve received are  included in the total reported figures.

‘We continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help  the  community understand and debate these issues,’ John Frank,  Microsoft’s vice  president and deputy general counsel said in a  statement.

Ullyot said Facebook is only allowed  to talk  about total numbers. But he added that the permission it has  received is still  unprecedented, and the company was lobbying to reveal  more.