Governments flood Facebook with personal data requests
Social media giant says it 'fights' many demands, which come mostly from US agencies
FACEBOOK has revealed that governments across the globe are demanding access to thousands of users' personal information.
About 38,000 requests were made to the social media giant in the first six months of 2013, according to its inaugural Global Government Request Report. Of the 74 governments named in the report the US made by far the most requests, demanding information on between 20,000 and 21,000 users.
The UK government requested information on 2,337 users.
In the report's introduction Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch stated that the social media site, which boasts over one billion users, will "continue to be aggressive advocates for greater disclosure".
Facebook "fights many of these requests", he said, and often only provides governments with "basic user information, such as a name".
Privacy International welcomed Facebook's report but said it did little to subdue fears of "a terrifying reality" in which governments can access citizens' private data in a variety of ways.
It said that files released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year lifted the veil on the amount of data authorities are collecting by taking advantage of an "over-permissive, vague and outdated" legal framework.
Countries in the developing world also made a significant amount of requests for Facebook information. India is second only to the US in user requests with 4,144, while Brazil made 857.
Facebook also revealed how many requests were successful. In the US it complied with 79 per cent, while the UK government received data from 68 per cent of its requests.
The report fails to reveal the exact nature of governments' demands but Facebook made clear that this may not be the case in the future: "While we view this compilation as an important first report, it will not be our last." ·