Summits Yellow

Facebook Transparency Report reveals government requests for data still increasing

Tim Maytom

Facebook continues to see increases in the number of requests for private user data from governments around the globe, according to the latest Transparency Report released by the social network. The Transparency Report, which covers H1 2017, reveals that requests increased 33 per cent year-on-year and 21 per cent half-on-half, hitting 78,890.

The US led requests by a considerable margin, responsible for 41 per cent of all information requests made to Facebook during the period. India, the UK, Germany and France were also among the most frequent requesters, with 12 per cent, nine per cent, seven per cent and six per cent, respectively.

While all requests are reviewed by Facebook, the figures also revealed that most were approved, with the UK (90 per cent), the US (85 per cent) and France (74 per cent) all notable for their high level of request approval. Of the data requests submitted by US law enforcement, 57 per cent also contained non-discloser orders, meaning that Facebook was prohibited from notifying the user.

Facebook also disclosed the amount data that was restricted by governments during the same period. H1 saw a huge leap in data restrictions, up to 28,036 from 6,944 in H2 2016, but most of this can be traced back to a single event, a school shooting in Mexico which resulting in Facebook restricting 20,506 pieces of content.

"We continue to carefully scrutinise each request we receive for account data  whether from an authority in the US, Europe, or elsewhere to make sure it is legally sufficient," said Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel at Facebook. "If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary.

"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."