Belfast Telegraph

Facebook data requests from governments are surging, site says

Facebook is seeing a huge surge in the amount of data being requested by governments.

The site has released its new information on government information requests, showing a huge rise in the amount of data that governments are trying to get hold of about Facebook’s users.

The number of posts that are being taken down because they are contravening local laws is also surging, at almost double the amount of posts that were being censored from last year.

Facebook said that it had received 35,051 requests from governments for access to account data. That was up 18 per cent, across all countries.

In some countries, the site is seeing an even greater surge in the number of requests that it is receiving. Most of the requests came from US law enforcement agencies, as shown in a start produced by Statista.

Facebook started releasing the data two years ago, in an attempt to head off accusations that it was working with governments to give them access to information. The company reiterated that argument when it released the new data.

“As we have emphasized before, Facebook does not provide any government with “back doors” or direct access to people’s data,” Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel, wrote. “We scrutinize each request we receive for legal sufficiency, whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary.”

The site also said that it had taken down many more posts because it violated local laws — such content could include films of violent crimes or posts that violate specific local laws like Germany’s ban on Nazi propaganda. The amount of content taken down for that reason was up 112 per cent, to almost 21,000 posts.

India and Turkey accounted for most of the content taken down for that reason. India’s total surged to nearly three times what it was in the first half of 2014, for instance, though that was accompanies by a surge in the number of people using it too — from 70 million half-way through last year to 190 million at the same time in 2015.


Independent News Service