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Facebook Says Drop in U.S. Government Data Requests During Final 6 Months of 2014

U.S. government requests for Facebook user data dropped off in the second half of 2014, according to the social networking site’s latest Transparency Report.

U.S. government requests for Facebook user data dropped off in the second half of 2014, according to the social networking site’s latest Transparency Report.

During the final six months of the year, requests for data from the U.S. government fell to 14,274, down from 15,433 during the first half of the year. The requests in the second half of the year dealt with 21,731 accounts. Facebook provided at least some of the requested data in around 79 percent of the cases. The largest category of requests was search warrants, which accounted for 7,924 of the cases. The second largest category is subpoenas, which accounted for 4,638. Somewhere between zero and 999 of the requests were National Security Letters.

“Overall, we continue to see an increase in government requests for data and content restrictions,” blogged Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, and Chris Sonderby, the company’s deputy general counsel. “The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 11% over the previous half, to 9,707 pieces of content restricted, up from 8,774. We saw a rise in content restriction requests from countries like Turkey and Russia, and declines in places like Pakistan.”

“The number of government requests for account data remained relatively flat, with a slight increase to 35,051 from 34,946,” they blogged. “There was an increase in data requests from certain governments such as India, and decline in requests from countries such as the United States and Germany.”

The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 11 percent over the previous half of the year, according to Facebook.

Last month, Twitter released its own transparency report and revealed that governments made a total of 4,929 requests for user information in 2014. That number was up from 2,567 in the United States. According to the report, Twitter provided information to the U.S. government in 80 percent of the cases.

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