Facebook Is Finally Releasing Its Data on Government Requests

Facebook is finally going to come clean. Or well, as clean as the government will allow it to. Like Google's Transparency Report and like similar reports given by Microsoft and Twitter, Facebook is releasing its data on the amount of government requests it receives. Of course, the numbers are completely unspecific but that's not exactly Facebook's fault, it comes with the territory.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook's General Counsel, wrote a post detailing Facebook's involvement in giving government data and how it has worked with the government in order to deliver transparency reports on all US national security related requests (that includes FISA and National Security Letters). That's something that no other tech company's transparency report has ever done yet, according to Facebook. Ullyot writes:

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.

Previously, FISA court orders were confidential. Facebook, Google and others have been hoping to change that so they could publish data about all the secret national security requests they receive. It looks like Facebook was able to convince the government to allow it to, we're sure other companies will follow suit. [Facebook]

Image via Pan Xunbin/Shutterstock