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Government data requests to Facebook at highest ever level
November 22, 2015, 12:46 pm
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Facebook last week released its half-yearly report on government data requests. The report indicates that total law enforcement requests during the first half of 2015 stood at 41,214, the highest level since it began tracking requests two years ago. According to the social network's publicly available database, this represented an 18 percent jump over the last half of 2014.

The US is still far and away the global leader in data requests, with 17,577 total requests affecting 26,579 users. In 80 percent of those cases, Facebook handed over some type of data. That rate fluctuates by roughly 10 percentage points depending on the type of data request.

Search warrants remain the leading request type with 9,737 related requests made by US law enforcement, followed by subpoenas at 5,375 requests. Facebook does not break out request types for other countries, but India, France, and Germany trail the US in total number of data requests at 5,115; 2,520; and 2,344; respectively.

Facebook can decline to provide certain types of data if it is not legally mandated to do so, and less than half of all requests made by India, France, and Germany resulted in Facebook handing over any type of data to law enforcement.

Facebook also reiterated in the report that it does not allow law enforcement peer onto its network directly.. "As we have emphasized before, Facebook does not provide any government with 'back doors' or direct access to people’s data," wrote Chris Sonderby, Facebook's deputy general counsel, in a blog post. "We scrutinize each request we receive for legal sufficiency, whether from an authority in the US, Europe, or elsewhere. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary."

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