Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp received thousands of requests for information regarding their users from government entities in the US during the second half of 2012.
Facebook became the first on Friday to release aggregate numbers of government requests.
"The total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. was between 9,000 and 10,000. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts," says Ted Ullyot, Facebook General Counsel, in a blog post on Friday.
"When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if required by law," Mark Zukerberg, Founder of Facebook, wrote as a status message last week.
Facebook has more than 1.1 billion active users worldwide, so the company is not worried about the tiny percent of user account that came under the scrutiny of US authorities.
But under the terms of the deal with US Justice Department, Facebook is not allowed to reveal how many secret orders were issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
"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 U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal," John Frank, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, wrote in the company blog.
Microsoft published a 'transparency report' earlier this year where it said it had received criminal requests involving 24,565 accounts for all of 2012, according to a Reuters report.
Both the companies quashed the rumours about receiving any national security orders of the type that Verizon was reported to have received that required Verizon to provide business records about U.S. customers.
Even Google had published a blog dated 11 June where it asked the US authorities to allow them to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures in their transparency report.
The disclosures about National Security Agency program called Prism, and revelation of collection of telephone records, have triggered concern about the scope and extent of the information-gathering.
Internet companies have been at crossroads as to how to address the issue that has caused unrest in the online community.