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Facebook beats Google for government user data requests in 2017

The United States, the United Kingdom, India, Germany and France are among the frontrunners in achieving a record number of Facebook user data requests.

By Tom Ball

Facebook received a record number of government requests for user data in the first half of 2017 when it racked up almost 79,000, comparably there were just 64,279 reports in the second half of 2016.

The significant 21 per cent uptick in requests represents an important development in government activity globally, with the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Germany among the frontrunners.

These statistics have been presented by the social media giant in its annual Transparency Report. While the report grants enhanced visibility of government behaviour, the information provided is not allowed to be any more specific.

Chris Sonderby, Deputy General Counsel, Facebook, said: “We believe that sharing information about IP reports we receive from rights holders is an important step toward being more open and clear about how we protect the people and businesses that use our services. Our Transparency Report describes these policies and procedures in more detail, along with the steps we’ve taken to safeguard the people who use Facebook and keep them informed about IP.”

Facebook explains in the report that the motivation behind the report is in the will to protect the people and the businesses that use the major social media platform.

“It also includes data covering the volume and nature of copyright, trademark, and counterfeit reports we’ve received and the amount of content affected by those reports. For example, in the first half of 2017, we received 224,464 copyright reports about content on Facebook, 41,854 trademark reports, and 14,279 counterfeit reports,” Sonderby said.

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Also in the statement, Sonderby notes the company’s concern regarding disruptions of Facebook services. There were 52 disruptions across nine countries in the first half of 2017, up from 43 across 20 countries in the second half of 2016.

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Sonderby said: “We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data — whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere — to make sure it is legally sufficient. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary.  We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to encourage governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms.”

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