Facebook Gives Gov't Access to Nearly 20,000 User Accounts

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Facebook Gives Gov't Access to Nearly 20,000 User Accounts

Facebook has revealed that the account details of between 18,000 and 19,000 of its users were given to the federal government.

Have you updated your Facebook account lately? If so, the government may know all about it.

According to a statement posted on the company’s website Friday, June 14, government agencies — including federal, state, and local authorities — requested user data on between 18,000 and 19,000 account holders.

The remarkable disclosure of government requests for users’ private information follows successful negotiations between Facebook and other tech giants and the federal government.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook, Google, and other technology companies who were implicated in the revelations of the PRISM program have petitioned the feds to allow them to disclose their level of participation in surveillance requests received from government entities.

Most of these requests by government are made under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Not surprisingly, when the government asks the special surveillance court to approve their snooping, judges give them the go ahead.

In fact, in April, the Department of Justice revealed to Congress the number of applications for eavesdropping received and rejected by the FISA court.

To no one’s surprise (least of all to the architects and builders of the already sprawling surveillance state), the letter addressed to Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reports that in 2012, of the 1,789 requests made by the government to monitor the electronic communications of citizens, not a single one was rejected.

That’s right. The court, established specifically to judge the merits of applications by the government to spy on citizens, gave a green light to every government request for surveillance.

Not content to be a mere formality for electronic surveillance, the FISA court (officially called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) also held the coats of the FBI while that agency carried out the searches and seizures set out in 212 applications.

Following the negotiations that opened the way for Facebook to report its cooperation with requests to hand over user information, Microsoft made a similar surveillance disclosure. A blog post on the Redmond, Washington-based company’s website declared:

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