Governments requested information about 38,000 Facebook users in the first six months of this year the social network has revealed.
Facebook’s Global Government Requests Report comes after the social network revealed it received 10,000 data requests from the US government under the NSA’s Prism porgramme during the second half of 2012.
It details which countries requested information about Facebook users and the number of request they made, along with the number of accounts authorities requested information about and the percentage of those that Facebook was required to divulge by law.
The US made more than half the requests for information, making between 11,000 and 12,000 requests to Facebook for information about almost 21,000 users. Of those requests, 79 per cent resulted in Facebook handing over at least some information to the US authorities, with the vast majority of cases based around criminal investigations.
India made the second highest number of data requests, requesting information about 4,144 users in 3,245 enquires, with Facebook handing data to the Indian authorities in half of cases.
The UK made the third higher number of requests for information asking for data about 2,337 users as part of 1,975 separate demands for data, 68 per cent of which saw the government gain access to user data.
Facebook states that it determines whether it should hand over information about users on a case by case basis.
“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,” said Colin Stretch, Facebook General Counsel.
“We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name.”
Facebook added that it’s important for governments to be transparent when it comes to collecting information about citizens.
“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,” said Stretch.
“Government transparency and public safety are not mutually exclusive ideals. Each can exist simultaneously in free and open societies, and they help make us stronger.
“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.