Facebook generates a huge amount of user data which, in addition to proving usefulness for advertisers, could also prove useful for government agencies. Facebook has released its Global Government Request Report for the second half of 2015 which reveals number of such user data requests from governments all over the world during July-December 2015. And US and Indian governments have topped that list with 13% more requests from all governments compared to last quarter.
We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases. 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.
Facebook said in the report.
India was the second country behind the US in terms of number of government requests for blocking content or requesting user data.
Facebook received a total of 5561 requests and 7018 user accounts requested from the Indian government and law enforcement agencies during the second half of 2015. It restricted 14971 pieces of content and produced some data in 50.87% requests during this period.
The number of restrictions was less than the first half (Jan-June 2015) in which Facebook had restricted 15155 content pieces and produced data in 45% of requests.
However, number of total requests and number of user accounts requested was less during that period with 5115 requests and 6268 user accounts requests.
According to the report, the majority of content that was restricted was alleged anti-religious and hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India.
The blocked content belonged to categories which the authorities have identified as illegal and was brought to attention by non-government entities, such as NGOs and members of the Facebook community.
Globally, Facebook received a total of 46763 government requests of account data which increased by 13% compared to 41214 requests in the first half. Facebook restricted a total 55,827 items, up from 20,568.
However, this huge increase is attributed to a photo related to Paris terrorist attack whose 32000 copies were restricted by Facebook in response to legal request from the government.
US was the top country to demand user data with a total of 19235 total requests for data and 30041 users/accounts requested in the second half of 2015. Facebook also revealed for the first time about non-disclosure orders.
It said that approximately 60% of the received requests for user data from authorities in the United States contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited Facebook from notifying the user.
However, Facebook has assured in its report that it does not provide any direct access to the user data on its platform.
The report said,
Facebook does not provide any government with “back doors” or direct access to people’s data. We scrutinize each request for user data we receive for legal sufficiency, no matter which country is making the request. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary.