United States leads Facebook data requests

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The U.S. government requested the greatest number of "total requests" and "user accounts requested" of any other government from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year from social media company Facebook. The finding echoes results published by other technology companies in similar reports--most recently Twitter--that the United States leads in requesting information from email and social media companies.

The United Sates requested information on 20,000 to 21,000 individual accounts and received at least "some data" in 79 percent of those cases, Facebook says in its first report on governmental requests for its data.

The next closest country was India with 4,144 individual account requests, writes Colin Stretch, general counsel for Facebook.  

The other countries that requested information on more than 1,000 accounts were the United Kingdom with 2,337, Italy with 2,306, Germany with 2,068 and France with 1,598, according to the Aug. 27 report.

The United States is the only country with requests listed as a range. A footnote attributes the vague figure to the fact that Facebook has "reported the numbers for all criminal and national security requests to the maximum extent permitted by law."

"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," adds the report, which vows to update the data once authorization is granted.

Stretch says Facebook has a "stringent" process for handling government data requests that "requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users."

For example, the company requires a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request, and if requests are vague they push back asking the scope to be narrowed or only providing very basic user information, such as name, says Stretch.

For more:
- go to Facebook's global government requests report

Related Articles:
Twitter reports rise in government requests for user information 
Google reveals legal processes the U.S. uses to get user information