On Friday, Facebook’s general council member Ted Ullyot publically announced that his company had been inquired by various local and federal government agencies to provide personal information of up to 10,000 users within the last six months of 2012. In all, those 10,000 demands implicated up to 19,000 personal Facebook user accounts.
Interestingly, Microsoft has also come out and professed that during that same time, the government had made between 6,000 and 7,000 requests to them, which would have touched up to 32,000 personal accounts. Facebook and Microsoft have made it clear that they are only authorized to display the actual amount of requests they received and must leave out details such as whether or not the requests fell under FISA.
Microsoft’s vice president John Frank stated, “We continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues,” alluding that if it gets the OK, his company will probably grow to be even more transparent.
While Facebook and Microsoft users are only being told that there is a chance that they have been involved in a government request, one 28-year-old artist from Brooklyn, New York has developed a way to let Firefox users know if they are falling victim of NSA surveillance.
Justin Blinder’s creation, a plug-in known as “Dark Side of the Prism” browser notifies users of potential spying by playing a song from Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “Dark Side of the Moon” when a website that’s potentially being watched is being used. Blinder informed the Guardian that he hopes that his plugin can “create some sort of ambient notification that you are on a site that is being surveiled by the NSA.”
He went on to explain, “I was really interested in the fact that, although the PRISM leaks were a shock to many of us, we pretty much already kind of know we’re being surveiled a lot of the time and giving away so much data.”