Facebook documenting Govt requests for information

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Facebook documenting Govt requests for information

Australian authorities requested info on 546 accounts this year.

Facebook revealed it received 546 requests in the first six months of this year from Australian authorities for information on users.

The figures, released in its first-ever transparency report, revealed the requests pertained to 601 Facebook users.

The requests were met in 64 per cent of cases.

United States authorities made the most requests for information with between 11,000 and 12,000 relating to some 21,000 Facebook accounts.

That trumped the Indian Government's second-highest number of requests at 3200.

It was also roughly 3000 more requests than the US asked of Google in the first six months of 2012, which represented roughly 16,000 of Google's members.

Altogether, Facebook received more than 25,000 requests on roughly 38,000 of users or accounts from governments in approximately 70 countries.

It released information to the US about 79 percent of the time and, overall, user information was released on about 60 percent of total requests.

“We have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests,” Colin Stretch, Facebook general counsel, wrote in the report.

“We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users.”

Subpoenas, court orders and search warrants are some of the things Facebook needs to release member information, Stretch said, explaining in the report that Facebook respects its users by poring over legal requests, fighting them to the best of its ability, and only releasing basic information, such as names, when mandatory.

Twitter also produces transparency reports, but receives far fewer requests.

In the first half of 2013, Twitter reported having received 902 requests from the US on 1319 users, with Twitter providing information on 67 percent of requests.

Twitter also has attempted to resist requests, including one involving an Occupy Wall Street protester.

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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