Are you under surveillance? Tech giants will reveal request data…

Snowden’s revelations surrounding the NSA’s intrusive surveillance programmes caused mass outcry from the general public and members of certain commissions. One of those he leaked was of PRISM –a slide revealed access to most of the major consumer tech giants’ servers.

The law has always been companies must hand over information they hold about individuals if the correct processes are followed, and if there’s proven reason to obtain said documents.

Last week, the US government eased up rules preventing technology companies from revealing data requests – now technology companies can publish more detail about what information they’ve been asked to disclose; albeit vague…

The reports cover a very broad range, lacking specificity, and must be delayed by at least six months. For example, we won’t get figures for the last half of 2013 until the middle of this year.

After the PRISM revelations, it damaged the reputations and trust in the companies involved. Those affected have been calling for increased transparency in a bid to prevent a reoccurrence of this debacle and build up a relationship – particularly with enterprises – that data is safe on their servers.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have all begun to reveal their own FISA request stats… Year-on-year, the data shows requests have raised considerably for each company:

Requests (by year)

Google (2011) 7,000 – 7,999

Google (2013) 9,000 – 9,999

Microsoft (2011) 11,000 – 11,999

Microsoft (2013) 15,000 – 15,999

Facebook (2012) 4,000 – 4,999

Facebook (2013) 5,000 – 5,999

“Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction,” said Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director for law enforcement and information security, in a blog post

Should governments be more transparent? Or is it a hindrance to protecting national security?

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