UK government asked Facebook for data on 2,500 users

The British government asked Facebook to provide information on more than 2,500 users in the first six months of this year, according to figures released by the social media giant.

Details of 2,619 Facebook accounts were requested between January and June — a 15% rise on the second half of last year.

Facebook said it provided information in more than 70% of requests, but restricted access to content in nine cases in response to court injunctions.

Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, said governments around the world made 34,946 requests for data in the first six months of 2014 — an increase of 24%.

During the same period, the amount of content restricted because of local laws increased by about 19%, he added.

In a blog post, Mr Sonderby wrote: “We scrutinise every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests.

“We continue to work with our industry and civil society partners to push governments for additional transparency and to reform surveillance practices necessary to rebuild people’s trust in the internet.

“While we recognise that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight.”

According to the figures published online, some 2,110 requests for data from 2,619 Facebook accounts were made by UK government agencies between January and June.

This compared to 1,906 requests for information on 2,277 Facebook users from July 2013 to December 2013.

Between January 2013 and June 2013 — when Facebook first began publishing records of government requests — 1,975 requests for data on 2,337 users were made in the UK. Facebook said it responds to valid requests relating to criminal cases and each request was “checked for legal sufficiency”.

“We reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague,” the company said.


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