UK authorities requested data on 2,337 Facebook users from the firm in the first six months of 2013, as the social network reveals data on the government data requests it receives for the first time.
In total, 1,975 requests were made, meaning some submissions concerned more than one user at a time. In total 68 percent of these requests for data were granted by Facebook.
Only the US, with between 10,000 and 11,000 requests for data on between 20,000 and 21,000 users, and India, with 3,245 requests for data on 4,144 members of the site, filed more submissions to Facebook than the UK.
Facebook was required by law to produce data for 79 percent of the requests from the US and 50 percent from India. Hong Kong and Iceland had 100 percent of requests granted, but this was from just one submission each.
Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, said the firm was releasing the information in order to prove that while it complied with the laws when required, it did not hand over data to the government whenever asked. This comes after the PRISM revelations leaked by Edward Snowden, which suggested the UK and US authorities had unchecked access to the data held by tech giants such as Facebook.
“As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests. We scrutinise 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," he said.
"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."
Stretch added that the government should not be entitled to data on web users without accountability and that by publishing such data it would allow others to keep track of its data demands.
“As we have said many times, we believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent. Government transparency and public safety are not mutually exclusive ideals,” he said.
“Each can exist simultaneously in free and open societies, and they help make us stronger. We strongly encourage all governments to provide greater transparency about their efforts aimed at keeping the public safe, and we will continue to be aggressive advocates for greater disclosure.”
Facebook joins others sites such as Google and Twitter in releasing information on the data it is asked for by governments, which show the importance governments around the world place on data posted on social sites.
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