The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
US surveillance requests released for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and other tech giants
Accounts belonging to tens of thousands of customers of major technology companies like Google have been turned over every six months to the NSA's Prism program, according to information disclosed by these companies on Monday.
The US Department of Justice reached a deal a week ago that is resulting in more transparency about the NSA US surveillance requests. Most of the requests for data involve overseas Internet transactions, but this is the largest volume of data released so far.
According to the terms of the deal, companies like Google that have been involved in surveillance requests have to wait for six months after being served by the secret court until they can disclose the information to the public.
Google's legal director for information security and law enforcement, Richard Salgado, posted on the Google official blog site, "More transparency is still needed as far as we are concerned. The public needs to have a better understanding of US surveillance requests and how they work so they can make decisions about whether this program truly serves the best interests of the public."
Salgado continued, saying, "We would like to see disclosure of the exact kinds and numbers of requests along with how many users are affected."
In the period from January to June of 2013, the most recent period reported to date, Google handed over metadata for 999 accounts along with the communication content for over 9,000 customers. June 2013 marked the beginning of Edward Snowden's landmark disclosures on surveillance by the US government.
The amount of data provided to the NSA by Google has been growing steadily over the years. Nearly 13,000 accounts had been reported on in late 2012, up from about 3,000 that were reported for the first half of 2009.