Federal law enforcement makes thousands of requests for your info

How often does the federal government ask Internet and telecom companies to provide information on their customers for investigations?

Google says it received more than 4,200 requests for data from January to June last year.

Since 2008, Facebook has repeatedly allowed law-enforcement agents to access private account data without the user’s knowledge, a new report shows.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange once called Facebook “the most appalling spying machine ever invented.” And based on a new report from Reuters, it seems as though he’s 100 percent right.

An extensive review of the Westlaw legal database by Reuters reveals that law-enforcement agencies are increasingly obtaining search warrants to snoop into users’ Facebook accounts, often without the users — or their Facebook friends — ever knowing that authorities had combed through their accounts.

Since 2008, federal judges have granted at least two dozen warrants to search users’ accounts, 11 of which were granted in 2011 alone. The agencies most often involved are the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Reuters reports that “the investigations range from arson to rape to terrorism.”

The information given up by Facebook to authorities includes the full range of activities: Wall posts, messages, status updates, links, videos, photos, calendar items and even rejected friend requests. This data comes in the form of “Neoprints” (a user’s total textual profile and activities) and “Photoprints” (snapshots of all photos a user has uploaded). Contact details, IP logs and group members are also included.

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