Indian Govt’s Requests for Facebook Data Rose 62% Last Year: Report

The data requests, usually related to criminal cases like robberies and kidnapping, also cover products like Instagram and Messenger.


India recorded a rise of 62 per cent in government requests for data from Facebook, according to the biannual transparency report released by the social media company on May 15, Reuters reported.

The company received 22,024 requests from India last year, as compared to 13,613 requests in 2016, the report showed. The company provided data for about 53 per cent of these requests. In the first half of 2017, India made 9,853 requests, and Facebook obliged to 54 per cent of those.

A majority of these requests relate to criminal cases such as robberies or kidnapping, Facebook said in the report. “Government officials sometimes make requests for data about people who use Facebook as part of official investigations. In many of these cases, these government requests seek basic subscriber information, such as name, registration date and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or account content,” the report said.

The requests also cover other platforms like Instagram and Messenger. Facebook also categorized the data requests into “emergency requests” and “legal process,” with the latter including those where a search warrant is issued.

In the second half of 2017, from July to December, India made 11,874 such requests while the global average was over 76,000 requests. The requests by the U.S government remained at 32,742 in the second half of 2017. The government requests for account data rose to four per cent globally in the same period, increasing from 78,890 to 82,341 requests.

The company said that in emergencies, law enforcement agencies may submit requests without legal process, and depending on the circumstances, it may voluntarily disclose information to law enforcement where it has a “good faith reason to believe that the matter involves imminent risk of serious physical injury or death.”

India made 297 such requests, while globally, governments used this about 6,200 times. As per the report, the total number of government requests for data from around the world was 161,231 the last year, as compared to 123,508 in 2016, marking an increase of 30.50 per cent.

The firm said it responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and its terms of service. It also said that it accepts government requests to preserve information pending receipt of formal legal process.

“When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process,” Facebook said.

The report released by Facebook also showed an increase in number of posts that have graphic violence in the first quarter of 2018. “Of every 10,000 content views, an estimate of 22 to 27 contained graphic violence, compared to an estimate of 16 to 19 last quarter,” it said.

Meanwhile, Facebook said that it shut down 583 million fake accounts in the first half of 2018 after coming under pressure following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which led CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain the firm’s policies over privacy concerns. Its artificial intelligence was able to detect 95.8 per cent of nude and sexual content even before it was flagged by a user and subsequently took down 20.9 million such posts in first three months of 2018, the company said.

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