Internet Giants, Amid Grumbling, Release New Data On Government Spying

Dustin Volz | Nextgov | February 3, 2014

Several Internet behemoths released updated data Monday detailing in broad terms the amount of national security requests for user data they have received from the government, part of transparency reports recently permitted by the Obama administration.

The reports—from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo—provide information on the number of government requests for user data, the amount of users affected by those requests, and the percentage of requests that yielded a response. Their disclosures join a similar one published last week by Apple.

But the data, detailing an aggregate sweep of six-month intervals, is only allowed to be listed in "bands of 1,000," per government instructions. For example, in detailing its most recent report covering January to June 2013, Microsoft explains that it received fewer than 1,000 orders "seeking disclosure of customer content" and that those orders "related to between 15,000 and 15,999" accounts.