Facebook Releases New Report of Government Requests

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Written By Gholam Rahmani

Facebook Releases New Report of Government RequestsThis past Tuesday, Facebook released their first report which outlines details of government requests to access certain individual’s accounts.

Facebook’s Global Governments Requests Report is divided into a number of sections such as name of the country and number of profiles requested.

The report covers the first 6 months of the year in an attempt to be more transparent due to persistent privacy concerns. The company stated that they intend to publish more reports like this in the future.

Also, if possible, they aim to divulge more information to the public such as the reason for the requests, although many suspect that the primary cause is criminal activity. In addition, they are hoping to share what kind of information these governments are requesting.

Facebook claims that a large number of legal prerequisites are required from all governments before access to personal accounts is granted.

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, has left a statement on Facebook’s webpage saying, “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. “


The country with the most requests, by a landslide, was the United States. The US government requested to view a total of 21,000 – 22,000 different profiles.

It is mentioned in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of the page that the reason all US information is reported in ranges is because this is the maximum amount of information they are permitted to reveal by law.

FAQ section continues to state that, “We continue to push the United States government to allow more transparency regarding these requests, including specific numbers and types of national security-related requests.”

The second most requests by a nations government was the United Kingdom with a total of 2,337 account profiles requested and in a close third place is Italy with a total amount of 2,306 requests up until the end of June 2013.

It is important to note that not all information requested is delivered and in many occurrences no information is handed out.

For example, Malaysia requested to look into 197 different individual’s private information and were denied on all counts.  This is probably due to a lack of legal merit.

Russia made a single request to look into a single individual and was also denied.

The US, Albania, Iceland and Hong Kong are a few governments whose requests were, more often than not, approved and have a relatively high success rate of accessing their citizens data.