Government requests for social media data jump

According to a report released by Facebook, there has been an increase in government requests for Facebook user data throughout the world. The online social networking service has released the number of government requests for users’ data and posts that have violated local laws in theirrespective countries.

Also included in the report is updated information regarding national security requests received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and through National Security Letters. It has begun reporting data in an effort to reform government surveillance in countries globally by providing more transparency. The report details the numbers of government requests throughout the first half of 2015.

It separates the data according to country in which Facebook is used and the type of government request. In the report are listed: requests of court orders, emergency disclosures, Title III’s, search warrants, subpoenas and pen register/trap and trace numbers.

Over the first six months of this year, government requests for users’ account data increased by 18 percent, from 35,051 to 41,214, globally. The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 112 percent from 9,707 pieces of content to 20,568. According to Facebook, these numbers are due to the government’s dependence on Facebook to help investigate criminal cases.

Government officials request basic subscriber information, IP addresses or account content and suspects’ online posts from the social media giant. Because the user base has grown by 15 million people within a year, there has been an increase in cases reported.

In the first half of the year, Facebook removed 20,568 posts and other pieces of content from its site that violated local laws throughout the world. This is more than double the number of material taken down in the second half of 2014.

A large portion of government requests comes from U.S. law enforcement agencies. The U.S. agencies requested data from 26,579 accounts. These accounts make up more than 60 percent of requests globally, an increase from the 21,731 user account requests during the second half of 2014.

After the United States, the countries with the most government requests and more content restriction include Britain (3,384), France (2,520) and Germany (2,344).Additionally, the countries with the most content removed due to local law violation are India and Turkey.

India rounded up the top with 15,155 pieces of material withdrawn, triple the amount of content removed from the end of last year.This massive jump is due to India’s Facebook user population of more than 190 million people.

The company wrote on the released report, “Facebook does not provide any government with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s data.” Facebook is continuously trying to employ a more diligent approach to all received government requests in an effort to protect users’ information, and security, while upholding their rights and freedom.