Facebook: Governments Are Requesting More User Data Than Ever Before

Facebook has over 2 billion active users — which is a significant percentage of the world’s population. So it stands to reason that governments across the globe would want access to that information. And according to Facebook itself, the company is receiving more of these requests than ever before.

According to the company’s semi-annual Transparency Report, the U.S. government made 32,719 requests for data in the first half of 2017 alone. That’s up about 25 percent from the back half of 2016. And over half of the requests so far this year came with confidentiality clauses.

“Fifty-seven percent of the data requests we received from law enforcement in the U.S. contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user, up from 50% in our last report,” the company said.

The U.S. government is by far the most active in terms of data requests, accounting for 41 percent of the numbers. However, the UK, France and India are all becoming more active, too.

Somewhat worryingly, Facebook provided the information that the government was after about 85 percent of the time. So while it’s a good thing Facebook releases these Transparency Reports, there’s still so much the company can’t or won’t tell us.