Facebook: Governments demanded information on 38K users, among them protesters and political activists

Facebook received about 26,000 government requests for information about 38,000 users in the first six months of 2013, with half of the orders coming from the United States government.

The social networking service published the numbers on Monday, following the
release of customer information data requests from Microsoft and
Google. Facebook said government agents from 74 countries
demanded information about its users, but the vast majority of
these requests came from the US, the Associated Press reported.

Classified documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper recently
revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) paid
millions of dollars to keep tech companies — including Facebook —
cooperating with the US government. US federal law allows the
government to demand Facebook data without a warrant, and
companies must fight such requests in secret court hearings if
they deny them. Facebook provided user data in response to about
60 percent of such requests, AP reports. And out of all US
government information requests, the social networking service
released some data about 79 percent of the user accounts in
question.

But because the US government prohibits companies from releasing
exact numbers on how often they have been forced to turn over
information, Facebook has been unable to specify exactly how many
of the 38,000 user information requests came from the US.
Facebook has announced the exact number of requests for all other
countries, but simply provided a number range for the US.

Worldwide, police and intelligence agencies have turned to
Facebook to request information about government and law
enforcement targets, such as activists who staged anti-government
protests in Turkey. Facebook received 96 information requests for
173 Facebook users from the Turkish government in the first half
of this year, but initially denied allegations that it released
information about protesters. Now, the social media giant admits
that it provided some information about 45 of these users.

“We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find
legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or
vague requests,”
Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel
company, said in a blog post. “When we are required to comply
with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user
information, such as name.”

Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg told AP that the information
the company gave to the Turkish government revolved around users
associated with child endangerment, as well as information in
response to law enforcement requests.

Overall, the six countries who submitted requests for information
on over 1,000 users are the US, France, Italy, India, Germany and
the UK. Russia, the largest country in the world, only submitted
one data request for user information throughout the six-month
period.

Facebook told AP that it plans to regularly release data on user
information requests it receives from government agencies.

Republished from: RT