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


"We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data - whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere - to make sure it is legally sufficient", Chris Sonderby, the company's general counsel, wrote in a post.

The ninth Facebook transparency report showed that governments' requests for information about users increased 21 percent worldwide compared to the second half of 2016, from 64,279 to 78,890.

Since 2013, when the company first started providing data on government requests, the U.S. number has been steadily rising-it has roughly tripled in a period of four years.

While all requests are reviewed by Facebook, the figures also revealed that most were approved, with the United Kingdom (90 per cent), the USA (85 per cent) and France (74 per cent) all notable for their high level of request approval.

The request for data demanding confidentiality shows that the US government has been strengthening its efforts for national security.

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The company removed user uploads in response to 81 percent of filings for counterfeiting, 68 percent for copyrights and 47 percent for trademarks, according to its report.

The transparency report also had copies of five requests from the government for information that the company was not permitted to reveal previously due to concerns regarding national security.

India become the second nation with 12% of data request and the U.S with 41% became first in the list.

This is not a new trend, and it's not unique to Facebook. However, the 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, resulting in Facebook restricting access in Mexico to 20,506 instances of the video in the first half of 2017. The non-disclosure orders climbed from 50 percent in the prior six months and 56 percent in the first half of 2016.

A "small fraction" of requests were excluded because they were not sent through an official form, Facebook said. On Instagram, the company removed 10,094 posts following 10,231 counterfeit claims. Based on legal requests from the Pakistan Telecom Authority and Federal Investigation Agency, Facebook restricted access to items that were alleged to violate local laws prohibiting blasphemy and condemnation of the country's independence.