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Google, for instance, has seen the number of people affected by FISA court orders rise from 2,000 to 2,999 users during the first half of 2009 to between 9,000 and 9,999 users during the first half of last year. The company showed an unusual spike in the number of Americans whose data was collected between July and December 2012. During that period, metadata was collected from between 12,000 and 12,999 users. Under the restrictions imposed by the government, no explanation was provided for that anomaly.

Yahoo listed the highest number of people swept up in FISA requests for online content during the first half of last year. The orders seeking user content spanned 30,000 to 30,999 accounts, according to the company. The requested content could have included emails, instant messages, address books, calendar items and pictures.

All the companies also received FISA requests that weren’t aimed at scooping up online communications or photos. Those demands sought things such as billing information and locations of where people made an Internet connection.

Google described Monday’s disclosure as a positive step while promising to keep fighting for the right to provide more precise numbers about the FISA requests and more specifics about the data being sought. “We still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest,” Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director of law enforcement and information security, wrote in a blog post.

Even if the companies can share more information about the FISA requests, they still might face doubts raised by other National Security Agency documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden asserting that the U.S. government has found ways to tap into the lines transmitting personal information between data centers. The companies are trying to thwart the hacking by encrypting most, if not all, the data stored on their computers.

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Liedtke reported from San Francisco.

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Online:

Google’s disclosure: http://bit.ly/1aX9uFf

Microsoft’s disclosure: http://bit.ly/1ekWklU

Yahoo’s disclosure: http://bit.ly/LsbHfh

Facebook’s disclosure: http://bit.ly/1nJLIQ2

LinkedIn’s disclosure: http://bit.ly/MqxpBl