They’ve been watching you…


Facebook has announced that in the last half of 2012 – the US government requested 9,000 – 10,000 pieces of data from users accounts and affected over 18,000 users. This isn’t a lot when we now know over 1 billion use Facebook but its a good handful.

These claims come from the US government and range from data requested for criminal activity to matters of national security. Facebook’s lawyer, Ted Ullyot, posted that the government had approached Facebook in order to help solve these matters. But f. Is t alone, Microsoft later announced that it had received 7,000 request which could affect 31,000 accounts. Now that’s a lot of data.

Former US surveillance experts have been surprised at the amount of data requested by the government and have said monitoring of US citizens is much larger than they thought. In a possible attempt to lock down the loopholes in US security and ‘protect’ affairs it is believed that last week: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo all signed up to allow the NSA (National Security Agency) “direct access” to their servers under a project called ‘Prism’.

The big tech giants quickly denied that they had handed their users data over to the government but added they comply with legal requests. Shedding light on the topics of interest Mr Ullyot said data would help solve matters from:

“things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat,”

Interestingly enough no company has come out to defend their users data. Earlier in June, Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant, leaked data of the Prism project and his whereabouts are now unknown. Facebook and others have been quick to sign themselves up to such a project. Whilst analysing its Data Policy I have not been able to find any relation that directly allows Facebook to share data or allow government bodies to willingly take a look at your profile. This is a state of monitoring and more cyber snooping – the Internet is a free place and should remain so. The data we place on Facebook is our data, and the government can not just cherry pick their way through. Facebook and others may have begun a slippery slope that means privacy isn’t their top concern. Of course data should be readily available to aid in criminal investigation – but their has to be a process. Currently it looks like there isn’t any and it is a free market – privacy should be paramount and in a civilised society how is spying on people and sneaking around social network sites ensuring privacy is upheld.