India ranks second in the world, in terms of the total Facebook accounts for which governments have requested information in the first six months of this year (ending June 30th 2013).
As per a global transparency report released by Facebook, the Indian government sent it 3245 requests for information on 4144 accounts, and the company complied with as many as 50% of these requests, and provided “some” information to the Indian government. In the lead (if you can call it that), is the United States of America, with 11,000-12,000 requests for information on 20,000-21,000 accounts.
Suggestions for Facebook
This is Facebook’s first transparency report, and there no more details are available. How can Facebook improve this report? By adding:
- Type of government agency from which the request was received
- How many of these requests were backed by court orders
- Whether the information was requested for users from the country making that request, from others.
Beyond this, there is also no clarity on the number of Facebook pages requested blocked – MediaNama readers might remember the bizarre instance of a Wedding Album being blocked on Facebook, as per the orders of the Department of Telecom. With this, report, Facebook is addressing concerns about Privacy, but what about Freedom of Expression?
It’s Going To Get Worse For India
Also worth keeping in mind is that these requests are only going to increase, with paranoid governments spying on citizens. In India, the government is putting in place a Centralised Monitoring System across telecom operators and ISP’s, which allows it to monitor Internet traffic, without approval from courts, and as per the Minister of State for IT Milind Deora, even without the knowledge of the telecom operator. However, information that is with companies like Google and Facebook, is encrypted, and hence, the Indian government will not have direct access to it. In comparison, if you go by the PRISM revelations, these companies are providing access to their data to the US Government.