Facebook reports 24% hike in govt data requests

Government requests for Facebook user data shot up nearly a quarter worldwide in the first six months of 2014 over the second half of last year, a biannual report from the company reveals. Over 40 percent of those requests originated in the United States. Between January and June of this year, governments made 34,946 requests for data globally. During the same period, the amount of Facebook content restricted at the behest of local authorities rose by 19 percent. In September, Google noted a 15 percent uptick in the number of government requests related to criminal investigations in the first six months of 2014. At that time, the company noted the number of such requests had jumped 150 percent over five years. While Facebook’s deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby said that the firm pushes “back hard” when data requests are made, Facebook was legally required to hand over some data in roughly 80 percent of the abovementioned cases. Meanwhile, approximately 15,433 of government data requests targeting 23,667 individual accounts came from the US. In contrast, 11-12,000 requests were made in the previous six-month period. In 80.5 percent of those cases, Facebook handed over some data – in line with the global average. Those numbers, however, could actually be higher, as Facebook must abide by a six-month gag order before reporting the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.

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