It’s not just the United States, even European governments are spying on their citizens. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said it has received more than 8,500 requests for user data from European governments in the first six months of this year. The requests directly affects 10,000 user accounts. The U.S. government has requested user data from a number of companies including Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Facebook received most requests from the U.K.
The startling fact about European spying came during the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee hearing. The event held yesterday was about U.S. online surveillance. But Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s director for public policy in Europe Richard Allan turned the tide by revealing European surveillance. He said the most requests in the first six months were made by the U.K. (1,975), Germany (1,886), Italy (1,705) and France (1,547), reports James Canter of The New York Times. The Turkish government had also requested user data from Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) during the nation-wide protests earlier this year. But the social networking giant rejected its request.
In the U.S., authorities issued 12,000 data requests involving 21,000 user accounts to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) during the same period. In the second half of 2012, the company received 10,000 requested from various local, state and federal authorities. U.S. and European countries have an agreement called “Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties.” Some of the European requests made through those Treaties were similar to the ones by U.S. authorities.
Facebook may charge governments for user data
U.S. online spying has become an issue of international debate. Europe is adding fuel to that. Richard Allan urged governments to allow more transparency. Mr. Allan said his company doesn’t charge governments for the user data. But it is exploring the opportunities of charging governments for providing access to user accounts. Facebook said it responds to requests related to national security and where there is an imminent risk of “bodily harm or death.”
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares were little changed at $46.58 in pre-market trading.