Govts push Facebook to hand over more user data

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Govts push Facebook to hand over more user data

Australian requests jump 10 percent.

Governments across the globe are putting increased pressure on social networking giant Facebook to hand over information on its users, with requests globally in the last six months jumping 24 percent.

Facebook publishes twice-yearly 'government requests' reports, which outline the number of data and content removal requests the company receives from international governments over a six-month period.

For the most recent period, the first half of 2014, Facebook received 34,946 such requests, representing a 24 percent rise on the last half of 2013.

The Australian Government made 610 requests related to 650 users and accounts over the period, Facebook reported - a 10 percent rise on the equivalent half in 2013. Facebook has 10 million Australian users.

The company said it produced some data for 60 percent of those cases. 

In the US, Facebook recieved 15,433 requests involving 23,667 user accounts over the six months, in which it produced data in 80 percent of cases.

This also marks a significant rise from the last six months of 2013, in which the US government made 12,598 requests for details from 18,715 user accounts.

"As we’ve said before, we scrutinise every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests," Facebook general counsel Chris Sonderby wrote in a blog post. 

"While we recognise that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight."

Technology companies over the past year have stepped up their efforts to introduce transparency to the volume and nature of requests for customer data they receive from governments and law enforcement.

In September, Google reported a 15 percent increase in requests for user data in the first half of 2014 - and a 150 percent rise over the last five years - while Apple received 2442 law enforcement device requests from Australia in the six months to June 2014, representing a 45 percent increase on the previous six months.

On home soil, Telstra revealed it had taken 85,000 requests for customer information for its 2014 fiscal year in its first full-year transparency report released in September. 

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