Facebook Government Data Requests Hit All-Time-High

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Facebook was inundated with requests from governments to access to user data in the first half of the year, with these requests hitting nearly 79,000.

The social network’s latest Transparency Report, which covers January-June this year, showed government requests hit an all-time high of 78,890, up 21% from the previous six months.

The US government led the way as usual, submitting 32,716 requests for data from 52,280 accounts. Interestingly over half (57%) of those cases featured a non-disclosure order preventing Facebook from notifying the user. This in itself represents a 50% increase from the previous report.

US government requests sent to Facebook were more than double the number relating to Google, although this could be explained by the fact that the social network also includes the wildly popular WhatsApp messaging service and Facebook Messenger, as well as Instagram, in its stats.

India was the second biggest source of government requests (9853), while the UK came next with 6845 requests from 8167 accounts.

The vast majority of access requests relate to criminal cases, according to Facebook.

“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. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary,” explained deputy general counsel, Chris Sonderby, in a blog post.

“We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to encourage governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms.”

Facebook also noted 52 disruptions to its services in nine countries in the report period, up from 43 in 20 countries in the previous six months.

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