Facebook Reports Increased Law Enforcement Info Requests

Facebook’s latest transparency report shows that requests for member information from US law enforcement agencies is up in the first six months of 2014—reaching 15,433 total requests for American user data related to 23,667 accounts.

That’s the highest that the social network has ever reported—and ironically, comes hard on the heels of the news that it has enabled a Tor address for users to connect anonymously. For the last period, from July through December 2013, it reported 12,598 requests that affected 18,715 accounts.

 “We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases,” Facebook officials said in a posting. “Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague.”

Out of the requests, Facebook complied with the requests in 80.15% of cases overall.

In terms of specific types of requests, Facebook received 7,676 search warrants affecting 12,230 accounts—and it turned over data in 84.35% of the cases. It also received 6,088 subpoenas for 9,661 accounts, which it cooperated with 79.75% of the time.

And, it received 573 emergency disclosures affecting 677 accounts—Facebook provided data for these in only 45.2% of cases.

Other data points: the social giant 609 pen register/trap and trace orders impacting 654 accounts (complied with 85.06% of them); 211 court orders under “18 USC 2703(d)” clause, impacting 287 accounts at a 77.73% compliance rate; 278 “other types” of court orders affecting 326 accounts at a 64.39% compliance rate; and six Title III orders affecting 13 accounts at an 83.33% compliance rate.

It also reported that the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) received during the reporting period and the ranges for all accounts specified in the requests. We are limited to reporting this data in bands fell between 0 and 999—like other companies, it is constricted to reporting only wide bands of data.

Also, “We are required to wait six months to disclose Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests,” so the most recent data is for the second half of 2013.

Tech giants continue to commit to transparency reports, and others have seen similar upticks in law enforcement requests. Google for instance said that in the first half of 2014, it received approximately 32,000 data requests (non-FISA related) from around the world, which is 15% more than the latter half of 2013, and 150% more than the company received when it started publishing transparency reports in 2009. In the US, those increases are 19% and 250%, respectively.

The search behemoth said that it complied with data requests to at least some extent in 65% of the cases.

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