Facebook data requests from world governments climb by 24pc

5 Nov 2014

Social network Facebook’s second report charting data requests from world governments has shown that across the board, requests have increased by 24pc, with requests from Ireland also having increased.

The report also revealed governments are becoming stricter when it comes to blocking content to Facebook users, having shown these instances increasing by 19pc on 2013.

Publishing its findings online, Facebook has once again shown the US remains the biggest contributor of government data requests, with an increase in the thousands.

Last year, Facebook’s report showed that for the whole of 2013, Facebook received between 11,000 and 12,000 requests for information, with the number of user data requests numbering between 20,000 and 21,000.

This year, however, the figures were exact, showing a total of 15,443 requests, users/accounts requested totalling 23,667, with 80pc of these handed over to the government, up from 79pc in the previous report.

Irish Facebook data requests up, but access granted is down

In Ireland, requests for data from Facebook remain relatively low, but they still show an increase from last year. Between July and December 2013, Facebook received 35 requests for data from the Irish Government, and 54 requests between January and June this year. Of those 54 requests, 61pc received total or partial access to the data.

This percentage actually shows that despite the increase in requests, the Government has gained access to fewer accounts as figures for last year showed 71pc of accounts were accessed in some capacity.

Speaking of this year’s findings, Facebook’s deputy-general counsel, Chris Sonderby, has said the increase in the number of cases is far from ideal and that aside from asking for equal transparency from governments, there needs to be more focus on the requests they want, rather than sweeping requests.

“While we recognise that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security,” said Sonderby, “we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight.”

Facebook screen image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic