Tech Companies Reveal Government Only Requested Data From Tens of Thousands of Users

HAMBURG, GERMANY - DECEMBER 28:  Participants attend the annual Chaos Communication Congress on December 28, 2013 in Hamburg, Germany. A strong topic of discussion this year is the role of anti-terror surveillance and saturated data collection by the NSA. The annual congress, organized by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), attracts an average of 6,000 hackers from all over the world to discuss technological and political issues.  (Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty Images)
Photo: Patrick Lux/2013 Getty Images

A week after the Justice Department said tech companies can release more information about government demands for customers' data – but only in ranges of hundreds or thousands – Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google updated their disclosures on Monday. Reuters reports Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said, "it's good finally to have the ability to share concrete data" that shows the company has not "received the type of bulk data requests that are commonly discussed publicly regarding telephone records." In fact, in the first half of 2013, a mere 15,000 to 15,999 Microsoft accounts were subject to content requests from FISA court orders. 

Of the four companies, Yahoo users were most affected, with between 30,000 and 30,999 accounts receiving FISA requests, which could include anything from words in an e-mail to Flickr photos to address book entries. That sounds like a lot, until Yahoo put the numbers into perspective on its blog. "The number of Yahoo accounts specified in global government data requests comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent of our worldwide user base for the reporting period," it said. See? There's no reason to stop sharing your private information online.