SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE Facebook published its first transparency report on Tuesday, detailing figures that show UK authorities requested data on over 2,000 users or accounts in the first six months of 2013.
According to Facebook's Global Government Requests Report published today, during the first half of this year UK authorities requested data on 2,337 Facebook users or accounts, while 1,975 requests were made in total, meaning that some requests apparently concerned more than one user or account at a time.
Facebook said that it produced data in response to 68 percent of these requests.
The UK was the third in the list of countries in terms of the number of government requests to Facebook. The US headed the top of the chart, with between 10,000 and 11,000 requests for data on between 20,000 and 21,000 users. India was second, with 3,245 requests for data on 4,144 members.
Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said that the firm was releasing the information in order to prove to users that it complied with laws where required but did not hand over data lightly, given the recent PRISM revelations that revealed the extent of UK and US internet surveillance.
"As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests. We scrutinize 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."
British privacy group Big Brother Watch said it is "particularly concerning" that 32 percent of requests did not result in any data being provided, yet in theory these requests had been signed off as 'necessary and proportionate' by the police force making the request.
"This should be addressed by the Interception Commissioner and we will be writing to him to make this argument," the group said in a post.
"It also highlights the ongoing questions about the skill base within the police to understand the data that is available - far, far more than ever before."
However, we found it particularly amusing that one has to be a member of the social network to be able see its Global Government Requests Report, considering that the post opens with the words, "Transparency and trust are core values at Facebook". µ
Tags: Social Media
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