Technology

Facebook Sees No Respite From Government Data Requests

Content restriction requests also rose 11% in the second half of 2014, to 9,707. India led the way with 5,832 requests.
Matthew HellerMarch 17, 2015
Facebook Sees No Respite From Government Data Requests

The U.S. government was easily the most active requester of user account data from Facebook in the second half of 2014, while India and Turkey made the most requests for content restrictions, according to Facebook’s latest report on government requests.

The total number of requests from governments received by the world’s largest social media network rose slightly to 35,051 between July and December 2014, from 34,946 in the first half of the year. There was an 11% increase in content restriction requests, to 9,707 pieces of content restricted, up from 8,774.

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“We saw a rise in content restriction requests from countries like Turkey and Russia, and declines in places like Pakistan,” Facebook said in a blog post.

social mediaOf the 14,284 requests for user data from the U.S. government, Facebook produced “some data” for more than 79%. The compliance rate for second-place India, which made 5,473 requests, was 44.7%.

The company is one of many that have begun tracking government requests for information since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government, in particular, was actively targeting user data in connection with law enforcement actions. Twitter recently disclosed that requests on its user information were up 40% in the second half of 2014.

More than 55% of the U.S. government’s requests to Facebook during that same period were in connection with search warrants. Subpoenas accounted for 32% of those requests and emergency disclosures accounted for 4%.

India led the way in content restriction requests with 5,832. “The country’s approach to censorship was highlighted when [internet service provicers] were told to block 30 websites, including GitHub, in December,” TechCrunch noted.

Turkey made 3,624 requests to take down content. Most Western countries, including the U.S., had none, though the United Kingdom had three.

“Moving forward, we will continue to scrutinize each government request and push back when we find deficiencies,” Facebook said. “We will also continue to push governments around the world to reform their surveillance practices in a way that maintains the safety and security of their people while ensuring their rights and freedoms are protected.”

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