Facebook Transparent About Government Requests for User Data
Hmmm, looks like not only America’s “Big Brother” is keeping a close, watchful eye on all of us, but 74 other countries are following suit, all through social media.
Do you realize that Facebook has more than 1.15 billion users worldwide? Pretty astonishing, huh? I agree. But, what shocked me even more was that nearly 38,000 of those users had their data handed over to various governments during the first half of 2013. And, more than half of the user-data requests, approximately 20,000, came from the United States government.
Ironically, the U.S. bans companies from revealing how many times they have been ordered to turn over information about their customers, but Facebook’s first ever Global Government Requests Report, aimed at providing transparency, revealed that there were between 11,000 and 12,000 requests from the U.S., followed by 3,245 requests from India, 1,975 requests from the United Kingdom and 1,886 requests from Germany.
Oh, and if you’re interested, the report details:
- The countries that requested information about users;
- The number of requests received from each country;
- The number of users/accounts specified in the requests; and
- Percentage of requests that Facebook was required, yes, required by law to disclose data.
Now, I realize that it’s one thing to request, but it’s a whole other thing for requests like these to be fulfilled. But, leave it to good ‘ole Facebook who granted 79% of the U.S. requests, 50% of India’s, 68% of the UK’s and 37% of Germany’s.
So, what type of information was revealed to these governments? I was unable to find specifics, but I did discover that government requests for user data can include:
- A user’s length of usage;
- Credit card information;
- Email addresses;
- IP addresses; and
- Stored contents of any account including messages, photos, videos and wall posts.
But, supposedly, the majority of the requests relate to criminal cases like robberies and/or kidnappings, and Facebook did claim that they fight many of the requests that they receive.
I don’t know about you, but this does make me feel a bit violated, especially if the governments are requesting credit card information. Seriously?! Isn't that personal and private? Albeit, I would never enter my credit card number into a social media site, but still. That's just too invasive in my opinion.
What do you all think? Are the governments just being cautious? Or do you think governments are being too nosey, snooping for information that they shouldn't have access to?
Posted by Ginger Hill on Aug 28, 2013