Government Requests for Facebook Data Up 27 Percent

Facebook headquarters
Facebook says government requests for user data are on the rise

23 December, 2016

Facebook Inc. released its Global Government Requests Report on Wednesday for the first half of 2016, saying that governments worldwide cumulatively increased their data requests from 46,710 to 59,229 from the second half of 2015 to the first half of 2016.

Requests by governments around the world for Facebook account data went up 27 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the latter half of 2015, the social media giant said.

According to Facebook, it received just 9,663 requests to remove content between January and June of 2016 as compared to 55,872 requests in the first half of 2016.

Facebook's report also included information on content restriction requests, where local governments ordered Facebook to censor user posts or images.

According to the company, more than half of these requests came from U.S. law enforcement and contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited Facebook from notifying the user.

Around the world, governments submitted more requests for data on Facebook users in the first half of 2016.

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The company also received 3,106 emergency requests, wherein it disclosed relevant information to law enforcement regarding matters that involved "imminent risk of serious injury or death". Out of the top 10 countries, the United Kingdom had the highest percentage of successful requests, with Facebook providing user data in 87 percent of cases.

Facebook also detailed content restriction requests, which are made in response to posts that violate local laws. During this reporting period, we received 38,675 preservation requests for 67,129 accounts. This essentially means that when a request to preserve information of any user or account is made by officials, Facebook will preserve the snapshot of the required information and produce it when required by law. "We do not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process", the company explained.

The social networking site further notes that following the decision of the Supreme Court, it has ceased acting upon legal requests for content restriction unless received by way of binding court orders or a notification by an authorized agency which conforms to the safeguards as directed by the Supreme Court.

It was made clear by the company that they do not provide any back doors or direct access to governments.

Facebook also emphasized that it will continue working with civil society groups that promote reforms with the way governments conduct their surveillance programs.

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