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Facebook: U.S Requested Private Data on 20,000 Accounts

by Todd Haselton | August 27, 2013August 27, 2013 9:00 pm PDT

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Facebook on Tuesday published its first Global Government Requests Report in an effort to be more transparent about data it sends over to various governments around the globe. The company provided the total number of requests from each country from the six month period ending June 30, an estimated number of accounts and users requested, and the percentage of how often it produced data and provided it as a result of those requests.

Not surprisingly, following reports of NSA PRISM privacy issues, the U.S. government asked for the most data. It requested data between 11,000 and 12,000 times on between 20,000 and 21,000 accounts and users. Facebook handed data over on 79 percent of those requests. India asked Facebook for information a lot, too, a total of 3,245 times on 4,144 users. Facebook turned data over 50 percent of the time. The United Kingdom asked Facebook for information on 2,337 accounts and received information on 68 percent of its requests.

“We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users,” Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said in the report. “We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name.”

Facebook said it understands that various governments will make requests in an effort to keep everyone safe, but it wants to be transparent with its users in how often it provides information. It also again called on governments to be more transparent.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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