Facebook says government data requests went up by 27 percent

By Karthekayan Iyer | Published on 22 Dec 2016

United States and India topped the list among countries with most data requests

Facebook says government data requests went up by 27 percent

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Facebook has revealed that government request for user account data went up by 27 percent in the first half of 2016. The revelation is part of social networking giant's Global Government Request Report.

Facebook's Global Government Request Report highlights key details like number of government requests received for account data along with number of items restricted for violating local law. Facebook reveals these numbers in the half yearly basis and the government request for account data increased 27 percent from second half of 2015. Facebook claims to have received 46,710 to 59,229 requests in the first half of 2016.

It says more than 40 percent of these requests came from law enforcement based in the United States. India came second at 10.8 percent requests followed by the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The report says about 56 percent of the requests received from US law enforcement carried a non-disclosure order, which prohibited Facebook from alerting the users in question.

"We apply a rigorous approach to every government request we receive to protect the information of the people who use our services. We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency, no matter which country is making the request, and challenge those that are deficient or overly broad," wrote Chris Sonderby, Facebook deputy general counsel.

Facebook has also revealed that it received a National Security Letter (NSL) from FBI in September 2015 forcing the hand over of personal information of a particular user. The NSL requested for user's name, address and electronic communications transactional records but excluded content of those communications.

Facebook also says that content restriction requests went down by 83 percent and it does not provide governments with back door or direct access to people's information. We live in a world where our online presence is expanding every passing day and government agencies are increasingly taking interest in user data. Earlier Google had revealed similar data request details where India reportedly came second when it comes to requests of user data. The details revealed by Facebook exclude China and Russia since the service is not available there.

Karthekayan Iyer

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