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Government Snoops Accounts! Revealed by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft!

by Fahad Saleem

Government Snoops Accounts! Revealed by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft!

govt snoops accountsRecently Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were required by the federal government to reveal account information.  This request was preceded by the inception of NSA leaks last summer. The information was associated with user data based on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders. Nowadays, companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Google are providing account of information they give to FISA requests. The revealing of a wide spectrum of data gives an idea about the numbers of users who had information requested on them. On the other hand this marks the triumph of small companies primarily when it comes to publishing of data on accounts. This was petitioned in the courts in August of 2014.

The question  is, did the companies get what they desired? Well, yes they did get it but not till the required depth and detail of the information was revealed.  This was exactly the case when Google was required to leak the data in terms of the  “FISA orders which was  issued based on probable cause”.

 The Government received the data about the accounts using FISA during the period of January through June 2013. A numerical account of this data is given below. It is to be noted that the number of accounts mentioned below does not account for the number of people. This is due to the fact that one person may have more than one account.

There were less than 1000 requests for all companies in the mentioned time below. This implies that some requests demanded for the information associated with a large number of accounts. For example if a company receives 1000 requests and shares information of about 30,000 accounts then it would result in an average of 30 accounts per request.

As far as the account of this data is considered, review the following information below during January through June 2013:

  • For Microsoft the content provided was equivalent to 15,000-15,999 accounts
  • Google provided information of accounts ranging from 9,000-9,999 in number
  • Facebook gave the information of approximately 5,000-5,999 accounts
  • Yahoo provided information of approximately  30,000-30,999 accounts during this interval
  • LinkedIn provided information that ranged from 0-249 accounts as a response to the letters by National Security (National Security Letters – NSL) and requests by FISA

The above sites augment the data that is available to a company. Based on this information, Google has data back to 2009 and Microsoft has data available all the way back to 2011.

 In this regard, all five of the the companies could have provided the information in ranges of 250. But, out of the five companies in total, LinkedIn was the only one to do so. The companies pleaded in court for the legal authority not to publish the extra data. Moreover on June 6, Google was falsely accused of providing the US government full access to its servers.

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