updated 02:13 pm EDT, Tue August 27, 2013
US asks for most user data, followed by India, UK, Italy, Germany
Government agencies representing 74 countries requested details from 38,000 Facebook accounts in the first half of the year, the social network has revealed. Its first Global Government Requests Report, similar to transparency reports published by Microsoft and Google, shows the governments of the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany as making the largest numbers of requests for user data from Facebook for the period.
The table from Facebook gives a range of between 11,00 and 12,000 requests concerning between 20,000 and 21,000 accounts in total from the United States, with data being provided to requests 79 percent of the time. While other countries have specific numbers in their listings, the US only offers ranges due to the number of requests that Facebook is legally allowed to reveal, with the company pushing the United States to allow it to be more accurate in its results.
India is second in the listings, with 3,245 requests covering 4,144 accounts and having a 50-percent success rate. The United Kingdom requested 1,975 times over 2,337 accounts, with a 68-percent data supply rate. On the other extreme of the list, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Russia, Serbia, and Uganda all made one request each, though only Hong Kong and Iceland managed to receive anything back.
The data requests are said by Facebook to be where a government organization needs account information for official investigations. The majority relates to criminal cases, with examples given including robberies and kidnappings, with most asking for basic subscriber details rather than posts and messages. Some of the listings take into account "national security requests," though it is not revealed what proportion of each region's requests were covered under this instead of criminal requests.
Facebook intends to provide more regular reports of this type in the future, stating "We strongly encourage all governments to provide greater transparency about their efforts aimed at keeping the public safe, and we will continue to be aggressive advocates for greater disclosure."