Facebook reveals gag-order over hundreds of user requests by US government

27 Jun 2014

Facebook has revealed that for over a year, they have been fighting a court-order which was requiring them to hand over user information for hundreds of its users, the largest it has ever received.

The social network claim that just before last summer, they received requests from the US government to reveal 381 user requests by warrant from a New York court, while only 62 people of this number were charged pertaining to a disability fraud case, according to CNet.

Since then, the company has been under a gag order which refused them permission to discuss the user requests which they have now been able to break and decided to release an official statement on the affair on their blog page.

Titled Fighting Bulk Search Warrants In Court, Facebook’s deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby explained how they were able to break the gag and why they say they wanted to: “Last Friday, we filed an appellate brief in support of our continuing efforts to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized and retained.

“Immediately after we filed our appeal, the government moved to unseal the warrants and all court filings, which has allowed us to finally notify the people whose accounts were affected about the warrants and our ongoing legal efforts.”

However, the company feel that despite this, the US lawmaker’s capabilities of accessing such information should be “narrowly tailored” and “proportionate to each case”, something which may be achievable for US citizens at least after this week’s decision to halt funding for all warrantless mobile phone searches by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Facebook screen image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic