Censorship

Content restrictions by Facebook in India dipped just a little (184 content pieces) to 14,971 in the second half of 2015, compared to 15,155 content pieces in the first half of 2015. In its transparency report for July-December 2015 (global), Facebook said that in India (report), it restricted access to content in response to legal requests from government and law enforcement agencies. It also blocked content identified as illegal and reported by NGOs and Facebook users.

Facebook states that the majority of the 14,971 content pieces that it blocked pertained to anti-religious and hate speech ‘that could cause unrest and disharmony within India’.

It added that it ceased to act on legal requests to remove content access unless told to do so by a binding court order and/or a notification by an authorised agency. It decided to do this after the company was informed of the “proper interpretation of the Information Technology Act 2000” by the Supreme Court. It is unclear what this notification from the Supreme Court is.

From July-December 2015 in India, the company received 5,561 requests in all, whereas the accounts/users requests were 7,018. Facebook provided some data in 50.87% of these requests.

Global data requests:
Content pieces: Globally, France led the total number of content pieces blocked with 37,695, followed by India at 14,971 and Turkey at 2,078. For violating local law, the total number of content pieces restricted shot up by 171.4% to 55,827 from 20,568 in H1 2015.
User data: The US led user data requests with 19, 235 requests, followed by India at 5,561 requests; UK at 4,190 requests; Germany at 3,140; France at 2,711 and Italy at 1,525. Total number of requests for user data was 46,710.
Accounts/users: For user/account requests, again the US led with 30,041 requests, followed by India at 7,018 requests; Germany with 3,628; France at 2,894; Italy at 2598; Brazil at 2,673 and Argentina at 1,047. Total number of user account requests was 65,858.
Global government requests for account data increased by 13% to 46,763 requests from, 41,214 in H1 2015.
– About 60% of the requests it received for user data from authorities in the US contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited Facebook from notifying the user.
Facebook blocked access to over 32,000 copies of a photo (related to the november 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris) alleged to violate French laws related to protecting human dignity. This photo was restricted only in France and the action was in response to a legal request from the French government.

Where Facebook provided the most data:
– Facebook provided the most amount of data to Croatia at 90.91%, where it had received only 11 requests for user data and 13 users/accounts were referenced.
– This was followed by Sweden, where Facebook provided some data to 87.31% requests; and had received 260 requests for user data and 400 accounts were referenced.
– Turkey was the third country where Facebook provided the most amount of data (84.2%) for 443 user data requests and 503 accounts.
– Interestingly, in both the UK and the US, Facebook provided some data for 82.15% requests and 81.41% requests respectively, from 4,190 user data and 5,478 account requests from the UK and 19,235 user data and 30,041 account requests from the US.

Additionally, it said that it supports the Email Privacy Act, which was passed the U.S. House of Representatives, “because it would codify the warrant-for-content requirement and update an old law on government access to Internet communications.”

Previous coverage of Facebook’s transparency reports here.

Image Credit: opensource.com under CC BY SA 2.0