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Facebook: Governments Made 34,946 Requests for Data in H1 2014

Facebook released on Tuesday a report detailing the number of request for data the company received in the first six months of 2014.

Facebook released on Tuesday a report detailing the number of request for data the company received in the first six months of 2014.

The social networking company’s third Government Requests Report reveals that governments from all over the world made a total of 34,946 requests for data, which represents a 24% increase compared to the previous six months. The amount of content restricted due to local laws has also increased by roughly 19%.


The United States government accounts for the largest number of requests — a total of 15,433, most of which are based on search warrants and subpoenas. The requests reference a total of 23,667 user accounts, with data being produced in 80% of the cases, the report shows.

As far as national security requests are concerned, the U.S made somewhere between 0 and 999 requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and via National Security Letters. Facebook is now allowed to disclose the exact number of such requests.

The U.S. is followed at a distance by India, which made 4,559 requests for data in the first half of 2014. Facebook produced data in just over half of these cases. The requests referenced close to 6,000 customer accounts.

The list of countries with over 1,000 requests also includes Germany (2,537), France (2,249), the United Kingdom (2,110), Italy (1,869) and Brazil (1,307).


Russia and Saudi Arabia haven’t made any requests for data, but they have asked the social media company to restrict content. India has been responsible for the largest number of content restriction requests (nearly 5,000), but a fairly large number of such requests also came from Turkey (1,893) and Pakistan (1,773).

“As we’ve said before, we scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests,” Facebook Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby said in a blog post.

One controversial case involves bulk search warrants issued by a New York court in July 2013 requesting the photos, private messages and other information belonging to 381 users. Facebook argued that such overly broad warrants violate the privacy rights of its customers and ignore constitutional safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Facebook was ultimately forced to hand over the data, but the company has filed an appeal with a higher court in hopes that it can invalidate these sweeping warrants. The company has pointed out that of the 381 individuals targeted by authorities, only 62 were actually charged in a fraud case.

“More broadly, we continue to work with our industry and civil society partners to push governments for additional transparency and to reform surveillance practices necessary to rebuild people’s trust in the Internet. While we recognize that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight,” Sonderby said.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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