Facebook Gets More Government Data Requests, India Tops


Facebook continues to get more and more government requests for user data, the social network said on Wednesday. Along with user data, authorities are also asking the U.S. firm to restrict more content than ever to align with local laws.

Facebook Gets More Government Data Requests, India Tops

India leads in restricting content

Facebook’s latest transparency report reveals that the number of data requests for the first six months of this year increased 18% to 17,577 from the last six months of 2014. The number of pieces of content which were restricted for violation of local laws was up 112% to 20,568 pieces of content. India was the biggest contributor to this number, accounting for 15,155 of these restrictions. What’s interesting to note is that no other country could even surpass the 1,000 mark.

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“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 U.S., the social network handed over data to authorities in almost 80% of the cases. Though the overall number of requests has been increasing, the percentage of requests from U.S. and U.K. authorities have been more or less the same in recent years.

Is Facebook revealing all details?

Facebook, for the past few years, has been releasing global government request reports once every six months. With the report, the social network aims to be transparent on exactly how much authorities are using it for obtaining user data. In a blog post, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Chris Sonderby, said the company does not allow any form of “back doors or direct access to people’s data,” and if there is any request which is “deficient or overly broad,” the company tries hard to push back or even challenge it in court.

Following the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, many tech firms, including Twitter, Apple and Google, have been publishing similar transparency reports. Though Facebook’s report provides limited information, it does suggest how the company works with authorities either willingly or unwillingly.

For instance, the social network may not detail the number of requests from intelligence agencies in the same way it does with requests from the law enforcement. The company needs to report such requests in ranges of 1,000. In the latest report, the company revealed that it received 0 to 999 national security requests for the first six months.

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