Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Daily Report: Tech Companies Reveal Some Numbers on Requests for Customer Data

Technology companies, under fire after revelations that they secretly gave customer information to the federal government, are putting out data to reassure their users, but rather than provide clarity the disclosures have left many questions unanswered, Vindu Goel and Claire Cain Miller report in The New York Times.

Apple, for example, said that from Dec. 1, 2012, through May 31, 2013, it received 4,000 to 5,000 requests for data, covering 9,000 to 10,000 accounts, from American law enforcement agencies. Facebook said it got 9,000 to 10,000 requests for information about its users, covering 18,000 to 19,000 user accounts, in the last six months of 2012.

How many of those requests were from federal investigators seeking to sniff out the next terrorist? The companies said they were not allowed to say, although they noted that the requests were commonly related to things like local police investigations and searches for missing children.

“We still don’t know what is allowed and how these programs are being implemented,” said Amie Stepanovich, director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research group.

But the companies were under immense pressure to announce something. If customers do not trust that Facebook or Microsoft or Google will keep private data confidential, they could use those services far less, undermining the companies’ entire business model.