Facebook Report Shows Major Spike In Government’s User Data Requests

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Facebook has released its latest bi-annual Transparency Report (for the first half of 2017) suggesting a steep increase in the government’s demand for user data. According to the social networking giant, the request for account data surged 21% across the globe, compared to the latter half of 2016.

School shooting video spikes takedown requests

Over 57% of the account data requests came with a non-disclosure order. This order allows law enforcement agencies to get information from companies about their customers without notifying the person under investigation. The report also revealed the redacted copies of five National Security letters that the company was not allowed to disclose earlier as per the non-disclosure orders.

Further, according to the Facebook Transparency Report, the U.S., India, UK, France and Germany made the maximum data requests accounting for 41%, 12%, 9%, 6% and 7% respectively. Facebook also revealed that at least 50% of the requests from each of these countries was granted, including 85% for the U.S., 90% for the UK and 74% for France.

Further, the Facebook Transparency Report also revealed a massive 304% surge in the number of content restrictions related to the violation of local laws. Of all the countries, Mexico made the maximum law enforcement related restriction, including the restriction on a video depicting a January school shooting in Monterrey.

“This increase was primarily driven by a request from Mexican law enforcement to remove instances of a video depicting a school shooting in Monterrey in January,” Facebook said.

According to the social networking site, it had to restrict the video of the shooting 20,506 times after receiving the request from Mexican law enforcement. In comparison, the company restricted the content for violating local law 28,000 times. This means that restricting the single video accounted for almost 72% of the total content restriction cases. For the second half of 2016, content was restricted only around 7000 times, suggesting a fourfold increase in the takedown requests, notes The Verge.

Facebook Transparency Report reveals IP related requests

Facebook revealed quite an eye-popping number for the claims of counterfeits. According to the social networking site, 217,265 pieces of content on the platform were pulled off after it acted on 81% of 14,279 claims. On Instagram, the company removed 10,094 posts following 10,231 counterfeit claims.

Coming to the copyrights, there were more than 200,000 copyright requests made related to Facebook content. Action was taken on 68% of those. Around 70,000 requests were sent to Instagram, and 685,000 pieces of content were removed. The Menlo Park, California-based company also revealed that over 110,000 pieces of Facebook content were removed over trademark infringement, while more than 37,000 were removed from Instagram.

In a press release, Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s Deputy General Counsel, said, “For the first time, we are expanding the report beyond government requests to provide data regarding reports from rights holders related to intellectual property (IP) – covering copyright, trademark, and counterfeit.”

Facebook also revealed that there were 52 disruptions of Facebook services in nine countries in the first half of 2017, compared to 43 such instances in 20 countries in the second half of 2016. The company stated that they are concerned about the internet disruptions, which can be a hurdle to the businesses and restrict people from sharing and communicating with their family and friends.

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