The number of user data requests Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has received from governments increased by almost 24% in the first-half of this year compared with the previous six months (to 35,000), according to Facebook’s “Global Government Requests Report.” Facebook content banned due to local laws has also increased by 19% in the same period.
Facebook in legal tussle over user data
The data follows Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s biggest legal tussle with U.S. courts regarding handing over its data on 400 people. Facebook submitted photographs, private messages and other information on people involved in a fraud trial as ordered by the court last year, but the request came into public eyes in August.
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“We’re aggressively pursuing an appeal to a higher court to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized,” the social media giant said in a blog on Tuesday.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) also commented that every request made by the government goes through its scrutiny process, and is rejected if there are any deficiencies or if the requests are overly broad. The online social networking company has been criticized by both users and the media for giving private, personal data to the government.
Just last month, Facebook said that it will modify its method of doing research on users after being flagged for a controversial experiment where it manipulated some users newsfeeds to study changes in their emotions.
Tech firms striving for transparency
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has launched a number of features this year to help users safeguard their personal information. In April, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg launched some new features that enable users to limit the amount of personal information shared with third-party mobile apps. A couple of years back, the social networking site entered into a settlement with U.S. authorities over a case alleging it tricked users to access more of their personal information.
Internet giant Google also reported an increase of 15% in the number of government data requests in the first half of this fiscal year compared to previous six months, and a 150% increase in the last five years.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) also provides information about government user data requests on a country by country basis such as the U.S. government activities under the Patriot Act.