press trust of india
WASHINGTON/HONG KONG, 15 JUNE: American tech giants ~ Microsoft and Facebook ~ have disclosed the number of requests they had received from the US National Security Agency to reveal details including Internet usage of their consumers.
Social networking giant Facebook said that in the last six months of 2012 its requests totalled between 9,000 and 10,000, and covered issues like local law enforcement investigating a child abduction case all the way through investigations into terrorist threats. These requests spanned between 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook accounts, the company said.
Microsoft’s total was about 32,000 accounts over the same six month period ending 31 December 2012. “For the six months ending 31 December 2012, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from US governmental entities (including local, state and federal),” said John Frank, vice-president & deputy general counsel, Microsoft. As such both Facebook and Microsoft said that this only impacts a “tiny fraction” of their global customers.
Their disclosure came following whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaks of documents which alleged major companies had provided the NSA direct access to their server data. Following the disclosure, the tech giants including Google sought permission from the USA to make public the request they received under the secretive Internet spying programme of the NSA. Microsoft and Facebook said they received only limited permission to release the information.
US President Barack Obama and other top US officials have defended the controversial surveillance into telephone records of millions of Americans and foreigners’ Internet use, saying it had been critical in thwarting potential terror attacks.

Protesters rally to support Snowden
Hundreds of protesters staged a rally in rain-hit Hong Kong today to urge the city’s government not to extradite former spy Edward Snowden, and slam the USA for its surveillance programmes.

Internet-beaming balloons
CHRISTCHURCH, 15 JUNE: Google is launching Internet-beaming antennas into the stratosphere aboard giant, jellyfish-shaped balloons with the lofty goal of getting the entire planet online. Eighteen months in the works, the top-secret project was announced today in New Zealand, where up to 50 volunteer households are already beginning to receive the Internet briefly on their home computers via translucent helium balloons that sail by on the wind 12 miles above Earth. While the project is still in the very early testing stages, Google hopes eventually to launch thousands of the thin, polyethylene-film inflatables and bring the Internet to some of the more remote parts of the globe, narrowing the digital divide between the 2.2 billion people who are online and the 4.8 billion who aren’t. ap