Facebook Reveals FISA Court Requests Numbers, Demands More Transparency

The social network received quite a few FISA requests, especially for content

Facebook joins the list of companies that have updated their transparency reports following the new change in policy that allows them to reveal how many FISA requests they receive.

According to the new transparency report from the world’s biggest social network, between July 1 and December 31 2012, the company received between 0 and 999 non-content requests regarding just as many accounts. The report looks the same for the six months between January 1 and June 30, 2013.

If you think the numbers look silly and don’t really reveal much, you’re probably right, but that’s because the new rules set within the new policy force companies to report data in bands of 1,000.

When it comes to content requests made through a FISA order, things change a bit. For both aforementioned time periods – July – December, 2012, and January – June, 2013, Facebook received up to 999 requests.

These requests affected more accounts, however, namely between 4,000 and 4,999 for the first period and between 5,000 and 5,999 for the latter one.

Data for the last six months of the last year cannot be revealed just yet due to an obligatory delay of six months in the reporting of these numbers.

This is Facebook's addition to its Transparency Report
This is Facebook's addition to its Transparency Report

As you can see, there are two types of data requests. The first set don’t contain user content, but rather metadata – email address, location, IP, and so on.

The second type involves Facebook (and any other tech company) revealing personal content. Since this is Facebook, the list includes your personal messages, likes, list of friends, content of posts, regardless if they were set to private or public and much more.

Taking a similar stance as Google and Yahoo have thus far, Facebook is asking for even more transparency since reporting data in ranges is not specific enough.

“As we have said before, we believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent. We will continue to advocate for reform of government surveillance practices around the world, and for greater transparency about the degree to which governments seek access to data in connection with their efforts to keep people safe,” writes Facebook’s Colin Stretch, General Counsel.


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