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Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google publish government data requests

Details about the number of secret data requests issued by the US government have been released by Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, as part of a transparency deal reached last month.

The tech giants published the requests for data in an effort to display their limited involvement in the spying scandal that erupted following the leak of secret documents last year by Edward Snowden, a former contract worker for the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Previously, the four tech companies had joined forces with Linkedin, Apple, AOL and Twitter to form a coalition calling for widespread reforms to US government surveillance.

Related: Tech companies call for global government surveillance reform

Part of the demands made by the Reform Government Surveillance alliance included greater transparency about the actions of intelligence agencies.

The deal that was agreed allowed for the partial release of data request information delayed to the public by six months.

"We believe the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google," said Richard Salgado, legal director for law enforcement and information at Google.

"Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction. But 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."

During the first six months of 2013, between 9,000 and 9,999 Google accounts were the subject of requests for content. Over 15,000 Microsoft accounts, 5,000 Facebook accounts and 30,000 Yahoo accounts were also the subject of court orders requesting content.

"You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online," Salgado added. "We'll keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world."