Facebook often finds itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to assisting law enforcement. If it does nothing, it’s allowing criminals to freely use its platform. But if it cooperates too much and delivers suspects’ information to officials, it could be seen as infringing upon user rights. That’s why it was so notable this week when the social media giant announced it would hand over the data of hate speech suspects to a French court.
Under both U.S. and French laws, Facebook isn’t compelled to deliver this information. And according to Reuters, this is the first time Facebook has struck this kind of deal with user data.
“It is a strong signal in terms of regulation,” lawyer Sonia Cisse told Reuters. “Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism.”
For its part, Facebook was quick to point out that it won’t hand over any data without first making sure the order to do so is legitimate.
“As we do with all court orders for information, even in the U.S., we will scrutinize every order we receive and push back if is overbroad, inconsistent with human rights, or legally defective,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill.
There’s no doubt that Facebook is walking a tight rope by agreeing to do this — because it’s likely only a matter of time before officials in the U.S. pressure the company to do the same here.
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