What is the web giants’ responsibility in the NSA scandal?

What is the web giants’ responsibility in the NSA scandal?

Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Apple … want to regain their users’ trust and have recently published the number of applications filed by the NSA, a first since Edward Snowden revelations.
This comes after U.S. authorities, a week earlier, as desired President Obama, have allowed these companies to disclose more information about monitoring their users by U.S. intelligence.
Yahoo! is the company being most affected by these requests for information on suspects or users about illegal content. Yahoo! said that about 30,000 user accounts have been targeted by those court injunctions. The data concerned are essentially keywords suspects in e -mails, but also pictures and contacts. The company said that requests for FISA covered only 0.01 % of its subscribers.

Microsoft has meanwhile received about 15,000 applications for its users, Google around 9000 and Facebook 6000. Nothing has been said about the percentage of positive response to queries.
However, all these requests were legal because they were made under warrants issued by the court in charge of overseeing intelligence operations (FISA).

“The publication of this information is a first step in the right direction and upholds the principles of reform that we called our vows last December,” said the legal officer of Google. Google representatives mention the fact “believe in the need for more transparency so that everyone can better understand the mechanisms of surveillance laws and judges whether they serve the national interests.”

Apple said before it had received applications for less than 249 users in the first part of 2013. And it dealt with address books and not the content of the devices.

The publication of such figures has been authorized by the Ministry of Justice providing that companies comply by publishing figures six months after FISA applications. However past arrangement prevents large companies to publish more details on these applications. These groups are committed to regularly publish such information but in exchange they had withdrawn the complaint filed with the secret court ordering such surveillance programs (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).

“As mentioned above, we believe that governments have a responsibility to protect people and they can do it while being transparent” wrote Facebook’s legal officer Colin Stretch on his blog.

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