When the NSA PRISM online spying scandal erupted this summer, Facebook asked the government to for permission reveal how much information they’re forced to turn over to federal agencies. Facebook joined with other tech companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to file motions requesting the permission to reveal this information, though the Department of Justice resoundingly denied the motions in a petition filed in federal court this week.
“The companies’ contemplated disclosures risk significant harm to national security by revealing the nature and scope of the government’s intelligence collection on a company-by-company basis throughout the country,” the DOJ said in the petition. “Such information would be invaluable to our adversaries, who could thereby derive a clear picture of where the government’s surveillance efforts are directed and how its surveillance activities change over time. If our adversaries know which platforms the government does not surveil, they can communicate over those platforms when, for example, planning a terrorist attack or the theft of state secrets.”
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about his displeasure with the government’s policy, and both users and privacy advocacy groups were equally furious at the social media giant for disclosing users’ personal info in the first place. However, it’s clear the government isn’t going to budge on the issue, so we may never know what (or how much) information Facebook is required to turn over to the feds.
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