Facebook says government requests for user data and takedowns are on the rise

David bisson
David Bisson

FacebookFacebook has released the latest version of its Global Government Request report, which reveals that content restrictions and data requests submitted by governments around the world are on the rise.

The social networking site recently summarized the main findings of its report in a blog post:

“Overall, we continue to see an increase in content restrictions and government requests for data globally. The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 112% over the second half of 2014, to 20,568 pieces of content, up from 9,707. Government requests for account data increased across all countries by 18% over the same period, from 35,051 requests to 41,214.”

The bulk of the requests came from United States law enforcement agencies, the stats of which are broken down here.

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In total, US officials submitted 17,577 data requests, whereas they made 26,579 user/account requests. This latter figure accounts for 60 percent of similar requests made by governments around the world.

Facebook government requests

As reported by Reuters, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom made up a large portion of the total requests, as well, whereas India and Turkey accounted for the greatest number of content restrictions, with India at 15,155 pieces restricted and Turkey at 4,496 items.

You can download the report in full here.

Facebook has been publishing these reports since the beginning of 2013, perhaps in part to counter Snowden’s revelations that it had in the past cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA) and other U.S. intelligence authorities in handing over user information.

To be clear, these statistics do not conceal the somewhat ambiguous record of Facebook when it comes to user privacy, as perhaps is best evident in the allegations that the site secretly lobbied for the recently passed Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) while publicly voicing its concerns about some of the bill’s provisions.

Nevertheless, Facebook’s reports, not to mention those of some of the other tech giants, present users with at least a partially transparent view into how governments are engaging with people’s data. Users can refer to Facebook’s report to make informed decisions about their privacy.

As always, whether they choose to do so (and how, if so) remains up to them.

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.

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