Itika Sharma Punit,Bangalore  August 28, 2013, BS

Only 50% govt request, considered by social networking website. India second largest country after US in terms of total user requests sought

Indian government sought information about 4,144 users from popular social networking site Facebook during the first six months of the year making it the second largest country after United Statesin terms of the total number of details sought.

The government sent a total of 3,245 requests to Facebook between January and June of which 50% were complied with, the website said in its first transparency report which lists the number of requests received by the site from governments across the world.

United States, on the other hand, sent 11,000-12,000 requests seeking information on 20,000-21,000 users from Facebook.

While technology giant Google has been coming out with such transparency reports for the last couple of years, the revelations about the US government’s surveillance programme PRISM has prompted other tech firms such as Facebook to follow suit.

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said in a statement that the company has 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.”

The company fights many of these requests, pushing back when there are legal deficiencies and narrows the scope of overly broad or vague requests, he added.

As per the report, Facebook received around 25,607 requests from 71 countries, seeking information about 37,954 users. The company also said, it often shares only basic user information, such as name, when it is required to comply with a particular request.

“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,” Stretch said. “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,” he added.

Top five nations in terms of total requests sent

CountryTotal RequestsUser/Accounts requested% of requests were some data produced
United States11,000-12,00020,000-21,00079.00%
United Kingdom1975233768.00%
 Source: Facebook Global Government Requests Report


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