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Facebook Releases Their Second Government Requests Report, Detailing July To Dec 2013


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In the past week we have seen Facebook release their second global Government requests report – showing the number of requests per country from Government Authorities, how many accounts were involved, and how many pieces of content were removed – reflecting data over the period of July 1 – December 31, 2013.

Facebook have posted all the data on their Government Requests website (https://govtrequests.facebook.com).

The data for Australia is as follows:

Total Requests – 603
Users / Accounts requested – 640
Percentage of requests where some data is produced – 65.51%
Number of pieces of content restricted – 48

Facebook General Counsel, Colin Stretch posted an update on the Facebook Newsroom further explaining the second report.

People around the world want to understand the nature and extent of government requests services like Facebook receive, and how companies respond to them.

Today we are releasing our second Government Requests Report. We have expanded on our first report to include information not only about government requests for account information, but also about government requests to restrict or remove content from our service on the grounds that it violates local law.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share, and to make the world more open and connected. Sometimes, the laws of a country interfere with that mission, by limiting what can be shared there. When we receive a government request seeking to enforce those laws, we review it with care, and, even where we conclude that it is legally sufficient, we only restrict access to content in the requesting country. We do not remove content from our service entirely unless we determine that it violates our community standards. We take a similar approach to government requests for account information. When we receive a request for information, we carefully assess whether we are legally required to comply. As we have long emphasized, we push back on requests that are overly broad, vague or do not comply with legal standards. When we are required to provide information, in most instances we share basic information only – such as name and IP address.

Since our last report, we have continued to push governments to authorize greater transparency about their actions, and to provide such transparency themselves. In December 2013, we and others in the industry launched Reform Government Surveillance, which set out principles advocating for more transparency and reform of surveillance laws and practices around the world. In addition, in the United States, we worked with others to push the U.S. government to allow us and other companies to provide insight into the volume and nature of national security-related requests for account information that we receive.

These are important steps, but much more remains to be done. Recent news accounts of alleged surveillance efforts by the United States government in other countries reinforce the importance of ensuring that all governments around the world seek access to user account information only through lawful process. We will continue to advocate for that principle, and for the additional transparency and accountability measures necessary to rebuild people’s trust in the Internet.

Looking at the top 5 countries to request data, we see:

USA – 12,598 requests, 18,715 user accounts
India: 3,598 requests, 4,711 user accounts
U.K.: 1,906 requests, 2,277 user accounts
Italy: 1,699 requests, 2,613 user accounts
Germany: 1,687 requests, 1,950 user accounts

I think it’s important for Facebook to provide Government authorities with data in cases of crime and crime prevention, but also important for Facebook themselves to be transparent and let users know data is being shared.

You can view the full report and a detailed breakdown per country at https://govtrequests.facebook.com


David Cowling : Editor and Founder of SocialMediaNews.com.au. I also run a Social Media Agency where I do consulting work and another blog dedicated to Instagram news. Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google + or contact me here. Alternatively, you can send me an email at david@socialmedianews.com.au











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