Internet Companies Begin Revealing Extent Of Government Snooping

Tyler Durden's picture

This Friday's night tape bomb came not from the administration, which may have run out of scandals and wars to reveal for the time being, but from FaceBook which late in the evening disclosed the extent to which it has been cooperating with the government in spying on its users. Which also changes the public narrative built upon a pyramid of lies and secrecy one more time - recall how one week ago the company tried to wash its hands one weeks ago when Mark Zuckerberg said that "Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers." Just indirect.

So in what was spun to be a rebellious act by a private company, long-cooperating secretly with the government, FaceBook's general councel posted on the company's news blog that the company is releasing data "including all national security requests." In doing so FB became the first US internet company to reveal the extent of official US government demands to hand over information, including confidential, about its users.

From Ted Ullyot, FB general counsel:

Over the last week, in press statements as well as Mark’s post last Friday, we’ve repeatedly called for governments worldwide to be willing to provide more details about programs aimed at keeping the public safe. We’ve also urged them to allow companies to divulge appropriate information about government orders and requests that we receive, in a manner that does not compromise legitimate security concerns.


Requests from law enforcement entities investigating national security-related cases are by their nature classified and highly sensitive, and the law traditionally has placed significant constraints on the ability of companies like Facebook to even confirm or acknowledge receipt of these requests – let alone provide details of our responses.


We’ve reiterated in recent days that we scrutinize every government data request that we receive – whether from state, local, federal, or foreign governments. We’ve also made clear that we aggressively protect our users’ data when confronted with such requests: we frequently reject such requests outright, or require the government to substantially scale down its requests, or simply give the government much less data than it has requested. And we respond only as required by law.


But particularly in light of continued confusion and inaccurate reporting related to this issue, we’ve advocated for the ability to say even more.

Odd how the company did not advocate the ability to say more before this scandal broke out. Could it have something to do with the fact that the company is suddenly experiencing an exodus of users who have no interest in being part of a confirmed spy game?

So just what does Facebook's post-facto transparency initiative reveal?

We’re pleased that as a result of our discussions, we can now include in a transparency report all U.S. national security-related requests (including FISA as well as National Security Letters) – which until now no company has been permitted to do. As of today, the government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range. This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency, so that our users around the world can understand how infrequently we are asked to provide user data on national security grounds.


For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.

In other words FB is taking the "look how rarely we hand over all your information to the government, so you must acquit route." Oh, and ignore that we are only disclosing this tiny fraction of privacy betrayal after everyone went "hyperbolic" on us. Yes, they really used that word:

With more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, this means that a tiny fraction of one percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months. We hope this helps put into perspective the numbers involved, and lays to rest some of the hyperbolic and false assertions in some recent press accounts about the frequency and scope of the data requests that we receive.


We will continue to be vigilant in protecting our users’ data from unwarranted government requests, and we will continue to push all governments to be as transparent as possible.

One wonders why press accounts may have been hyperbolic: perhaps it has something to do with the complete cloak of secrecy that PRISM has been operating under, and the trickle of information exposing just how symbiotic private corporations have been in handing over user secrets in exchange for money or other confidential data: one massive information interchange between the ruling apparatus and a select few individuals at America's most prominent internet companies. How dare the media resort to "hyperbolic assertions" indeed.

As for Facebook's "push" for transparency, and not just in terms of its user profiles being transparented to the NSA, we are confident the company will continue doing so... as more information dissemination secrets are revealed, and as more lies are exposed.

Finally, with Facebook so vocally (if a little late) unleashing the "transparency movement" late on Friday, Microsoft was next... almost as if completely coordinated.

Microsoft later said that for the last six months of 2012 it received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts, Reuters reported.

Well, thanks for stepping up guys. We are confident that even without Snowden's revelations you would have done right with your clients regardless.

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francis_sawyer's picture

The most transparent public spying user forum in HISTORY!

francis_sawyer's picture

<== I don't mind that Zuckerberg gives all my bio & uploaded fotos to .gov [as long as I'm not doing anything wrong]

<== Fuck you Zuckerberg you mother fucking fuck...

TeamDepends's picture

What is Facelock trading at these days?  Still laughing at you fools who bought stock in a company that produces nothing except virtual groping.

LetThemEatRand's picture

You can lead a sheep to Facebook, and make it drink.

Spider's picture

Of course those government request numbers are correct because Zuckerberg wouldnt lie to us...

Now, lets see facebook include all those "direct" access requests by the government - y'know the direct connections to facebook servers

nmewn's picture

"Microsoft later said that for the last six months of 2012 it received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts, Reuters reported."

Talk about "compounding interest"...because clearly, not knowing one is communicating with someone who is a suspect, makes you a suspect as well.

So lets just troll through thirty two thousand, we might come up with somebody cutting grass on the weekend or selling lemonade or doing unwanted hair removal, then we can turn over those "criminals" to the IRS for further investigation.

Paveway IV's picture

All user account information means passwords, too - they have unfettered, direct access to that many accounts aside from the capability to monitor activity on them real-time. 

Since eMail and Social Media providers have taken to using carefully chosen Weasel-Word language, we can assume anything they just said somehow obscures a larger, more meaningful set of numbers. Did they already provide 500K accounts each during the time before July of 2012? They don't need to keep asking for previously-revealed account holder's information. So they're saying they sent 30K or so ADDIDITIONAL accounts to the government in the last six months of 2012? Who cares. How many have they sent in total up until now?

Notably absent in the gang of thieves denials or scripted diversionary numbers are the largest broadband internet providers. AT&T/Yahoo!, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox, TimeWarner, Verizon. No doubt they whored out their cosutomer's personal information long time ago. 

Whether PRISM or some other spookware, the NSA want's to be able to trace every account back to an actual person. They can't do that without knowing broadband providers' customer data and activity logs. If they have those, then it doesn't matter what kind of privacy tricks you use - the NSA will simply siphon off every single packet you send and recieve and piece together where you've been and what you've been doing. 

Only the government is allowed to keep secrets. Peons never really had the chance. 


RockyRacoon's picture

Does it make ya wonder what ZH hands over?

Paveway IV's picture

Why would it matter? Although they could, the NSA probably isn't going to start tracking someone just because of their ZH presence. Why bother getting 10,000 eternal warrants for every last tinfoil hat site on the internet? If they can get 99% of what they need with 150 eternal warrants to the biggest telcos/providers/sites, then that's what they're going to do. 

If the NSA wants to track you at all for any reason, then they're going to try to get to the device ID and subscriber ID for your phone and internet. With that, they can see every time you call or access the internet, every one you call or message. Every web site you visit. And, if they cared, the ZeroHedge ID you used. You would never know one way or the other if they could or did demand user info from ZH because that would come with a threat to ZH that they will be microwave dessicated in a FEMA industrial oven if they tell anyone about such a request.

NSA owns the network and the U.S. can bully most western governments for any similar subscriber information they want. Why? Because the other governments are 'bribed' by being supplied with information they want but don't have the capability to collect. The NSA, at the very least, has total access to the British, German and Australian network backbones and are willingly provided with such by the respective governments. The price is to do a little snooping for them, too.



espirit's picture

Yes, no, yes, no, no, no...

Well, maybe a "little" bit.

Riiiight! Fucking liars.


mkhs's picture

All this talk about warrants.  How many unwarranted, besides all?

underman's picture

Sure, bring "missing children" into the lies.  I shut down my page last month. 

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Don't get mad, get even:

And pass the word. IMO there is no better way to repay them. And then watch them squirm, or worse.

Blano's picture

How do you know they don't have back doors to all this stuff too??

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

We don't. But it is very unlikely, if they are open source and non-US.

In any case, raising their cost (manpower) and lowering the profits of the current Big Collaborators is the key.

Doing 'nothing', in the name of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) most certainly plays into their hands 100%.

g&#039;kar's picture

HTTPS web search and webmail (beta testing)


I signed up for beta testing for startmail, haven't heard back yet

TeamDepends's picture

They will run out of fingers to stick in the dyke in 3 2 1....

jbvtme's picture

he said to a disappointed janet napolitano

SWRichmond's picture

They admit they were lying before, but I am sure they are not lying now...


MiltonFriedmansNightmare's picture

Who believes? Certainly not I. I suspect the Feds have secret file on virtually every US citizen. They may data mine at a rate of 1% for now, but that rate is subject to change and very likely will rise in the near future, as the FEMA camps are populated.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Yes, it's funny until you realize that Napolitano has turned the upper echelons of the DHS into a Tyranny Of Fags.

Lost Word's picture

Was that a reference to the spy program Echelon ?

How much NSA spying on public, outside of corporate complicity ?

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

No, I was referring to executive management of DHS

FlipFlop's picture

It seems that ZH crowd is shocked about invasion of privacy.

However, majority seems like being dumb fucks, quoting Zuckerberg. They are still demanding more surveillance as cameras help to find some trivial wrong doers. Eh, they have nothing to hide, so let the .gov find out about their sexual preferences...

There was recently a robbery in a store and bad guys were captured as their faces were revealed by some spy camera foto.

A vast majority of commentators demanded more cameras and shit.

How is it possible that general public has become such a bunch of absolute morons? Conditioning? Long term education by schools, TV etc?

Robission Crusoe seems to be the only option remaining?

francis_sawyer's picture

"It seems that ZH crowd is shocked about invasion of privacy."


It doesn't sound like it to me... According to the poll avove, there are AT LEAST 6 [at last count] water totin' Zuckerberg sychophants who dig getting spied on...

Nevermore Peabody's picture

I not really shocked now, but now that it's not just for the tin hat crowed, I feel safe in displaying this outrage.


When I deleted facebook over a year ago over this stuff, and Brandon Raub(?) getting arrested and put in the ward for facebook posts, everyone told me *I* was the crazy one.


Who's crazy now, ya lizard people shape changers from Neptune?!

FlipFlop's picture

Sorry, there is a crucial mistake here. No wonder my post is misunderstood.

It seems that ONLY ZR crowd is shocked, where the general public loves being spied, demands more spying, finds spying as a positive public good, and loves spying others.

The aim seems to be to medicate populations brain activity asymptotically to zero so they are easy to govern. They will sit in a room until told otherwise. They demand being spying while sitting there and everyone else finds spying the guy useful.

Bananamerican's picture

"How is it possible that general public has become such a bunch of absolute morons? Conditioning? Long term education by schools, TV etc?"

my 11 year old neice is a budding author...Her newest ebook features: a mean girl, a cute boy and....terrorists™

And, yes, Lockdown Fever™ is sweeping amerikan education these days because 911 and all these School Shooters™ have changed everything™ so if you See Something, Say Something™ the parents of a 7 year old we see it ALL

FlipFlop's picture

And hey, I am American. I live in place where STASI/DDR implementation is far beyond you can imagine.

America is still very good society compared some other socialist shit holes. None of ZHs would probably not tolerate some more state centric surveillance states.

Here, noone even protests as peasants find surveillance good, something to be increased.

francis_sawyer's picture

Well ~ If you hadn't noticed...

ZH has now, 'officially' become 'CHEERS' [with a Bloomberg Terminal]... as is evident by the above 'Zuckerberg' sychophants...


With MsCreant, fonz, & kito all leading the charge to a 'kinder, more gentler, disposition' towards Bangladeshi's who are raping you in the ass...

espirit's picture

@ francis

Be careful of the Bangladeshi Anti-Defamation League, lol.

(I got your 6)

Blano's picture

Long term INDOCTRINATION by schools, TV, etc?

There, fixed it for ya.

Georgiabelle's picture

"How is it possible that general public has become such a bunch of absolute morons? Conditioning? Long term education by schools, TV etc?" -------Read "Nudge" by Cass Sunstein, the Obama appointed dirceotr of OIRA and husband of Samantha Power, our new Ambassador to the UN. This guy is a flat-out lunatic and he is in charge of the Office of Informaiton and Regulatory Affairs. Scary stuff. Here is just one of his many "gems":

"In what sense is the money in our pockets and bank accounts fully ‘ours’? Did we earn it by our own autonomous efforts? Could we have inherited it without the assistance of probate courts? Do we save it without the support of bank regulators? Could we spend it if there were no public officials to coordinate the efforts and pool the resources of the community in which we live? Without taxes, there would be no liberty. Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending. [It is] a dim fiction that some people enjoy and exercise their rights without placing any burden whatsoever on the public… There is no liberty without dependency.[26]"

Read his bio, and his wife's as well. Obama has filled the US government with as many of these cultural Marxists as possible. They hold virtually every cabinet post and most higher-level positions at every government agency. We are so screwed. 

Midasking's picture

Would love to see the internet companies come out and expose the whole thing.. what are they afraid of?

jbvtme's picture

between the tsa, the nsa and the drones i'm feeling a bit irritated

machineh's picture

... plus the FSA (the Fucking Syrian Affliction)

dwdollar's picture

Why should they have any credibility?

One And Only's picture

"They trust me — dumb fucks,"

-Direct quote from Mark Zuckerburg talking about facebook users.

Doctor of Reality's picture

I just don't care anymore. TPTB have had decades to test their policies and when faced with failure, they double down. The policies on the Left that have merit are ridiculed by the Right and vice versa. Do ANY socialist-progressives (with a brain) on the Left believe we can endlessly fund a welfare state on the backs of the hard working? Do ANY fascist-progressives on the Right believe we can fight endless wars without blowback/fatigue?

My (our) EDUCATED opinions don't matter to anyone in power, so why bother anymore? I'm with God. All else is window dressing.

falak pema's picture

thanks for leaving me Aphrodite! 

Jorgen's picture

Gawd, I'm glad my wife & I don't have kids.

Me, too.

Dwindling white population of the U.S. (and the World in general).

And Pat Buchanan's interview.

My point being here is that consindering the demographic trends in the U.S., the country will continue going in the statist left direction. This is exactly what Pat Buchanan has been saying for years.

Doctor of Reality's picture

They've been watching us for YEARS! How many "terrorists" have they caught? Oh wait... that's classified. We all know this spy grid is about CONTROL and not safety.

Nevermore Peabody's picture

Especially when the number of sting operations that are boarder-line -- hell, OUTRIGHT entrapment issues outnumber the actual threats...


It's like the infomercials where they invent a problem, and sell you the solution.


They're inventing these terror threats, and "solving" them.  Damn fine detective work, FBI. Who do these jokers think they're kidding?

zhandax's picture

We all know this spy grid is about CONTROL and not safety.

Why can't the fucktards fit this between their ears?

Esso's picture

"Why can't the fucktards fit this between their ears?"

Because deep down they just know that Lord Commander Hopey Changey is going to make it all better.

Maybe in 2016 we'll elect a new Savior to save us from the previous Savior.

Gawd, I'm glad my wife & I don't have kids.

bunnyswanson's picture
Loser?  We are almost there.  shut up.  Go hide under your bed, stay on the porch.  the worst part of it are people like you who would send the children into a life of utter misery because if this goes on, there aren't going to be ~any~ Americans who come out of this alive, unless they hold dual citizenship with Israel.   Yellowbelly (Copthorne)
 Yellowbelly (Copthorne)

A yellowbelly is a native-born resident of Copthorne, West Sussex, England. The origin of this nickname is lost in history, but a number of explanations have been offered in "Copthorne - a story so far", the book written for the village's Millennium Celebrations, in the chapter by Joy Day entitled Traditions and Characters. These include:

* The Gypsies on the common traditionally placed a gold sovereign on the belly buttons of new-born children
* The early Saxons living in this area would use yellow ochre found in the local clay to colour the walls of their homes
* Bellies became yellow due to crawling through the fields of buttercups whilst poaching
* In a local iron quarry the men became covered in yellow dust
* Any outsider wishing to marry a Copthorne girl had to cross their prospective bride's belly with gold sovereigns
* Copthorne Rovers (football club) were known as Yellow Bellies, and it was from the footballers that the nickname came into being
* The old villagers wore gold strapped to their bellies
* There was also a slanderous story perpetuated by the residents of the neighbouring village Crawley Down who queried in which direction certain unmentionable lavatorial ablutions were carried out
* Because smugglers would run away (afraid) if they thought they were likely to be caught
* They used to smelt iron and make charcoal in the woods around Copthorne, they used to strip to the waist and their skins turned yellow in the smoke

NidStyles's picture

I would be more impressed if they started releasing the names of whom the government has been after so we can see what sort of person they are relly after, as I doubt they are the people that the average sheep considers to be a terrorist.