Technology

Government Requests for Facebook Data Up 18%

Facebook took down 20,568 posts and other pieces of content that violated local laws in the first half of 2015.
Matthew HellerNovember 12, 2015

Facebook has reported that government demands for account data globally jumped 18% in the first half of 2015, with U.S. law enforcement requests accounting for more than one-third of the total.

Governments also demanded that Facebook restrict more content than ever because of local laws, the social media network said in its latest transparency report. India led the way with 15,155 requests for content restrictions — no other country exceeded 1,000.

Facebook has published the report for the past few years to be transparent about exactly how often law enforcement agencies and governments are requesting data on its users. The number of requests is rising steadily, going up to 41,214 in the first half of 2015, from 35,051 in the year-ago period.

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U.S. law enforcement sought subscriber information like names, registration dates, and lengths of service for 26,579 users. Facebook turned over some data for nearly 80% of those requests.

By comparison, the United Kingdoam made 3,384 requests, Canada requested 410, and Japan wanted only nine.

Requests for content restrictions, meanwhile, soared between January and June, rising 112% worldwide over the second half of 2014. Facebook took down 20,568 posts and other pieces of content that violated local laws, more than doubling the number taken down in the year-ago period.

“We restricted access in India to content reported primarily by law enforcement agencies and the India Computer Emergency Response Team within the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology because it was anti-religious and hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India,” Facebook said in the report.

The number of Facebook users in India is up nearly 70 million since June 2014, to more than 190 million users.

Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, emphasized that the company “does not provide any government with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s data. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary.”

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