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Software companies speak about PRISM

Facebook and Microsoft allowed to talk

Facebook and Microsoft have made agreements with the US government to release limited information about the number of surveillance requests they receive under PRISM.

Writing in its bog, Facebook said that it received between 9,000 and 10,000 US requests for user data in the second half of 2012, covering 18,000 to 19,000 of its users' accounts. Facebook has more than 1.1 billion users. Most of the requests were routine police inquiries. Facebook is forbidden from saying how many were secret orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Microsoft said it had received requests of all types for information on about 31,000 consumer accounts in the second half of 2012. Intelligence requests appear to constitute the bulk of government inquiries. Google is negotiating with the government over publishing the its figures. The sticking point was whether it could only publish a combined figure for all requests. It said that would be "a step back for users," because it already breaks out criminal requests and National Security Letters, another type of intelligence inquiry.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft have wanted the US Government to permit them to reveal the number and scope of the surveillance requests after documents leaked to Guardian suggested they had given the government "direct access" to their computers as part of a National Security Agency program called Prism.

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