The Erosion of Your Online Privacy, Now in Chart Form

A series of charts curated by Mother Jones shows the extent to which companies like Facebook and Google are caving in to the government's requests for user data. While these numbers would have seemed shocking even a year ago, recent revelations into the government's PRISM program show that widespread abuses of civil liberties at the behest of the Feds are beyond the scope we originally thought. While tech companies are asking the government to allow them to provide accurate numbers of requests for info made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government is seeking to obscure this request at transparency. According to Mother Jones:

Collectively, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter report receiving tens of thousands of requests for user data from the US government annually. In 2012, Google received over 16,400 requests covering more than 31,000 user accounts from federal, state, and local authorities. The number of data demands directed to Google has been increasing since 2010, when the company reported receiving less than 9,000 requests.

As seen in this chart, tech companies aren’t complying with every request, yet the percentages are alarmingly high. Note that these are only percentages and do not reflect how many people are actually having their personal info turned over to the government.  

This chart more accurately pins a number to the amount of those affected and it very closely resembles the population of Palo Alto, California.

With a clearer picture of how many people are being spied upon, the question still remains: What info is being handed over? Microsoft provided the chart above, which they say gives an example of the "non-content information" that is given upon a FISA request. 

However, these are examples of what is "normal" and normalcy does not usually apply to FISA requests. According to Mother Jones:

Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that normal restrictions on the type of information released may go out the window when FISA orders are involved. "What we know about FISA orders is that they seem to be targeting non-U.S. persons, so they may actually request content, since Fourth Amendment protections don't apply." Snowden claimed Monday in a live chat with The Guardian that when an NSA analyst targets an email address, he or she gets "all of it . . . IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything." And even when the NSA isn't targeting domestic communications, Snowden claimed that the content of a U.S. citizen's email is only protected by a "very weak" filter that can be "stripped out at any time."

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