Facebook, Microsoft says they have new permission to talk about government’s user surveillance
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook and Microsoft Corp. representatives said that after negotiations with national security officials their companies have been given permission to make new but still very limited revelations about government orders to turn over user data.
The announcements Friday night come at the end of a week when Facebook, Microsoft and Google, normally rivals, had jointly pressured the Obama administration to loosen their legal gag on national security orders.
Those actions came after Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American who works as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, revealed to The Guardian newspaper the existence of secret surveillance programs that gathered Americans’ phone records and other data. The companies did not link their actions to Snowden’s leaks.
Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said in a statement that Facebook is only allowed to talk about total numbers and must give no specifics. But he said the permission it has received is still unprecedented, and the company was lobbying to reveal more.
Using the new guidelines, Ullyot said Facebook received between 9,000 and 10,000 government requests from all government entities from local to federal in the last six months of 2012, on topics including missing children investigations, fugitive tracking and terrorist threats. The requests involved the accounts of between 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users.
With flames in check, some evacuation orders lifted in devastating Colo. wildfire
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Firefighters advanced against a monstrous wildfire outside of Colorado Springs, expanding containment lines and lifting evacuation orders for thousands of anxious residents in the most destructive blaze in state history, which has destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two people.
“I think if you look at it as a fight, we got our tails kicked for a couple of days,” El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said Friday afternoon. He called Thursday a “draw,” then gave what’s been one of the most optimistic updates since the wildfire exploded this week. “I think today we delivered some blows, and we’ve got some good news to give out.”