Facebook has revealed that there was a 27 per cent increase in the number of requests made by governments for account data during the first half of 2016. However, requests for content restriction decreased by 83 per cent during the same period, according to the tech giant’s biannual Global Government Request Report.
In a newsroom blog post, Facebook said that the rise in data requests was driven primarily by law enforcement in the United States. The total number across the globe increased from 46,710 in the last half of 2015 to 59,229 between January and June this year, and the US accounted for 23,854 of those requests.
Facebook also noticed that US law enforcement included a non-disclosure clause in more than half of their data requests, which prevented the social network from notifying the user involved. The US was way ahead of other countries in terms of requests, with India coming in second with 6,324 and the UK in third with 5,469.
Facebook also detailed content restriction requests, which are made in response to posts that violate local laws. The huge dip in comparison with the previous cycle was due to the sharp rise in requests for the restriction of a single image relating to the terrorist attacks in Paris late last year.
The report also listed the number of times that governments requested to take a snapshot of account information pending the receipt of formal legal processes. These preservation requests totalled 38,675 during the first six months of the year.
“As we have previously emphasized, we apply a rigorous approach to every government request we receive to protect the information of the people who use our services,” Facebook’s Deputy General Counsel, Chris Sonderby, said. “We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency, no matter which country is making the request, and challenge those that are deficient or overly broad.”
He added: “We do not provide governments with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s information. We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to push governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms.”
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