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Government Requests for Facebook User Data This Year Rose By 24%

Nov 04, 2014

Facebook reported a nearly one-quarter increase in the number of government requests for user data over the last year.

Government requests for user information rose by 24% between the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014, while the number of government requests for content restriction rose by 19%, the report said. Specifically, 34,946 requests were made by governments around the world for user data between January and June of 2014.

While government requests are made for criminal investigation purposes, Facebook said that it ensures that all inquires are legally sufficient. The social media company is currently challenging a bulk search warrant on 400 users, which Facebook believes violates privacy and constitutional rights.

"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," Chris Sonderby, Facebook Deputy General Counsel, wrote in a press release.

While Facebook emphasizes its resistance against unjustified criminal information requests, its latest report is decidedly less focused on the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders and National Security Letters (NSL) the company has received. The two U.S. laws allow the government data surveillance for security reasons, but companies aren't legally permitted to disclose exact information about their requests.

The latest challenge to make FISA and NSL requests more transparent is instead being spearheaded by Twitter, which sued the Justice Department in October to provide more information to its users.

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