That Facebook is the largest social network in the world is something that cannot be argued. And that also makes it one of the largest (and most attractive) databases out there. For this reason, and given that its service and subscribers are global, Mark Zuckerberg’s company receives requests from governments around the world, responding “to government requests for data in accordance with applicable laws and our terms and conditions of the service”.
The Facebook Transparency Reports
But far from saying yes to all, on Facebook “each of the requests we receive is meticulously analyzed to determine its legal suitability, and we can reject them or ask for more details to be included if they are too broad or vague.”
Therefore, each month and “as part of our ongoing initiative to share more information […], Facebook periodically produces this report on government requests for user data to provide details regarding the nature and scope of such requests,” as well as of the rigorous policies and processes we have to analyze them. ”And the social network has published the one corresponding to the first half of 2020, right in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis.
The United States, the ones that always ask for the most data
During the first half of 2020, government requests for user data increased by 23%, from 140,875 to 173,592. Of the total volume, the United States is once again the one that continues to submit the highest number of applications, followed by India, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
From the US government alone, Facebook received 61,528 requests, a 20% increase compared to the second half of 2019. For US requests, nondisclosure orders prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user remained stable at 67 % in the first half of 2020.
Additionally, as a result of transparency updates introduced in the 2016 American Freedom Act, the United States government lifted nondisclosure orders on 16 Homeland Security Letters that the company received between 2015 and 2019. These requests, along with Authorization letters from the United States government are available on their website.
Data requests from Spain
Of all the US requests, 67% included a nondisclosure order that prohibited Facebook from notifying the user. Additionally, as a result of transparency updates introduced in the 2016 U.S. Freedom Act, the U.S. government lifted the nondisclosure orders on six National Security Letters that Facebook received between 2015 and 2017.
For its part, Spain presented a total of 1,353 requests for relevant data to 2,228 Facebook users during the first half of the year, of which the platform has authorized 63%. Regarding content that violates local laws, during the first half of 2020 the volume of restrictions has increased by 40% globally, from 15,826 to 22,120 content.
As always, at Facebook “we vet every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid, no matter which government makes it. If a request seems poor or too broad, we reject it, and we will fight in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with “back doors” for people’s information. “