India Ranks Second In Government Requests For Facebook User Data
The Facebook Inc. ‘like’ logo is displayed on a computer screen and reflected in water droplets in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

India Ranks Second In Government Requests For Facebook User Data


India came in second after the U.S. in terms of nations asking Facebook Inc. to disclose information related to user accounts, according to a report by the Mark Zuckerberg-led social media firm.

Such requests increased by over 9 percent to 22,684 in the first half of 2019, it said.

In January-June 2019, India made 22,684 requests for data of 33,324 users/accounts from Facebook. In comparison, the U.S. made 50,714 user data requests of 82,461 users/accounts in the period. The U.K. (7,721), Germany (7,302), France (5,782) and Brazil (5,683) were also in the tally.

Facebook, in its half-yearly Transparency Report, stated that government requests for user data were at an all-time high at 1.28 lakh total requests in the first half of 2019. This is up by over 16 percent from 1,10,634 requests in July-December 2018.

In the first half of 2019, India made 21,069 requests under "legal process" and 1,615 emergency requests with 33,324 users/accounts requested. The US-based company said some data was produced in 54 percent of the requests.

Requests from India in the July-December 2018 period stood at 20,805, of which 861 were emergency requests, while 19,944 requests were under legal process.

"Facebook responds 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," it said.

The company added that it accepts government requests to preserve account information, pending receipt of formal legal process. “When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process,” the Facebook Transparency Report stated.

Facebook said it restricted access to 1,233 items of content, including 1,211 posts, two profiles, 19 Pages and Groups and one comment on its social media platform.

It added that the company permanently restricted access to content in India in response to legal requests from law enforcement agencies, court orders, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Content restricted was alleged to violate Indian laws on the grounds listed under to Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and was primarily in the categories of hate speech, anti-religion content constituting incitement to violence, defamation, extremism, anti-government, and anti-state content, it added.

"We also restricted access to 217 items in response to private reports related to defamation," Facebook noted.

The company, which has faced flak previously over breach of user data, said it also "temporarily restricted access to 448 items in response to reports received from the Elections Commission of India alleging that the content was subject to election blackout periods". Access to this content was restored following the end of applicable blackout period, it added.

Also read: Exit Twitter, Enter Mastodon: Why Some Indians Are Switching To This Social Network

India also topped the list of Internet disruptions, with 40 disruptions in the first half of 2019, lasting cumulative period of over eight weeks. This included regions like Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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