Government data requests from Facebook hit an all-time high

by Tomas Statkus - -

In the first half of the year, Facebook was flooded with law enforcement requests from the government to access user information. The number of the requests hit an all-time high approximately 79,000.

government data request facebook

The latest Facebook’s Transparency Report[1] provides the information of the time period from January to June of 2017 and shows that government requests have increased by 21% compared from the previous half of the year, by hitting of 78,890.

Facebook ensured that responses in government request to access user data are applicable law and the social network’s terms and conditions:

We respond to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service. Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague.

The highest volume of the requests came from the United States government, which submitted 32,716 requests for data from 52,280 accounts. Worth to mention, that a non-disclosure order was applied on over half of these cases – about 57%. It is as much as double compared to the previous report.

In addition, the number of requests that were sent to Facebook was more than twice the number of requests sent to Google. The tendency could be explained by popular and widely used messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that are included into Facebook. In addition, it is worth to mention the photo-sharing app Instagram in Facebook statistics.

When it comes to the second biggest source of Facebook requests from government institutions, it is India with 9858 requests. The United Kingdom comes in third. The UK government have sent 6845 access requests from 8167 accounts.

Facebook indicates that the vast majority of these request access user data is related to criminal cases.

Christ Sonderby, Deputy General Counsel[2] explained more detailed in Facebook Newsroom blog post:

We continue to carefully scrutinize each request we receive for account data — whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere — to make sure it is legally sufficient. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back and will fight in court, if necessary. We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to encourage governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms.

According to the social network, 52 disruptions to Facebook services in nine countries increased from 43 in 20 countries in the previous six months, according to the report.


About the author

Tomas Statkus
Tomas Statkus - Team leader

Tomas Statkus is an IT specialist, the team leader, and the founder of He has worked in the IT area for over 10 years.

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