AfterDawn: Tech news

Facebook got over 9,000 user data requests in H2 2012

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 15 Jun 2013 11:59

Facebook got over 9,000 user data requests in H2 2012 Facebook has revealed that it received between 9,000 and 10,000 data requests from U.S. government entities during the second half of 2012.
You may recall that earlier this week, Facebook was one of the major Internet firms to appeal to the U.S. government to allow it to be transparent about how many requests it receives for user data. The social network was joined in its call by Google and Microsoft, who were desperate to counteract media reports that the NSA had "direct access" to their servers; a claim they all denied, and which now seems to have been likely false.

Following negotiations with U.S. national security officials, Facebook can now give details about the FISA and other national security requests it receives from various government sources.

"For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) was between 9,000 and 10,000," Ted Ullyot, Facebook General Counsel, wrote.

Those 9,000-10,000 requests received by Facebook during the six month period involved about 18,000-19,000 accounts. The reason for the claims is not all national security either. While some do relate to terrorism investigations, Facebook is also requested to help in cases of missing children or pursued fugitives. Facebook data in those cases could shed light on where people are.

That being said, Facebook made it clear that it scrutinizes every data request it receives and only responds as required by law. What this means is many of the data requests are rejected outright as it may have no legal requirement to comply. Even in cases where it does, Facebook looks to minimize the amount of data it hands over to authorities in a lot of cases, often telling the law enforcement agency in question to amend its request, or simply providing a lot less data than was sought.

The company has said that it had no choice but to ask for limitations on disclosures of this nature to be eased, as it had to fight "inaccurate reporting" on the issue.

Tags: Facebook
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