Government Requests to Facebook for User Data Sees 18% Surge

Facebook, in a biannual report, said that government requests for its user data have increased sharply during the first half of 2015 compared to the previous half-year period.  Facebook on Wednesday released its country-wise reports on government demands for the user account data and requests for deletion of posts and other content.

Governments’ attempts to access user account data has been a controversial issue especially after  former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about secret surveillance programs of the American spy agency. According to the Facebook report published on its website, government requests for user data and content restrictions have been  witnessing  an upward trend since the social media giant began publishing details about such demands.

“Overall, we continue to see an increase in content restrictions and government requests for data globally. The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 112% over the second half of 2014, to 20,568 pieces of content, up from 9,707, ” Facebook said in the report.

Government requests typically involve information about user identities, account data, IP addresses and user content.

According to the report, government requests for account data increased across all countries by 18% over the same period, from 35,051 requests to 41,214. Similarly, Facebook  removed about 20,500 pieces of content which apparently violated local laws from its platform during the first half of this year.

Although, the social media giant received requests from governments globally, bulk of such requests came from the U.S. U.S law enforcement agencies demanded information about 26,579 users which accounts for more than 60% of the requests globally.

Facebook said that it does not comply with every government request for data, but scrutinizes each such request and complies based on the merits of the case.

“We scrutinize each request we receive for legal sufficiency, whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary,” The statement said.

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