Facebook’s Transparency Report for the first half (H1) of 2018 reveals a steep rise in data requests by the Indian government, as compared to the number in the previous two years.

Facebook received 16,580 data requests from the government in H1 of 2018, as compared to 12,171 data requests in H2 2017 and 9,853 data requests in H1 of 2017.

During this period, 23,047 user account information was also requested.

Facebook provided data to the government in 53% of the cases – this includes information about requests related to various products and services under Facebook such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Oculus and WhatsApp. The following table shows a rise in the data requests made by the government over the years.

 

Legal and Emergency requests

It is interesting to note that the half yearly report saw an increase of 107.7% in the emergency requests from the government as compared to the requests made in H2 2017.

Legal requests rose by 34.43%. Legal requests are the requests accompanied by legal process while emergency disclosure requests are the ones where law enforcement may submit requests without legal process.

 

Facebook said that it responded to government requests for data in accordance with applicable laws and its terms of service. “Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague,” it said.

Facebook said that it accepted government requests to preserve account information pending the receipt of formal legal process. “When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information, but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process,” it said.

Internet disruptions

India has had 40 internet disruptions in between January to June this year. And total duration for which there were “intentional restriction on connectivity” is 11 weeks, 1 day and 12 hours.

Preservation Requests

Facebook received about 1000 requests for the preservation of account information. “When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process,” the report clarified.

Global Overview

Government requests for account data increased globally by around 26% compared to the second half of 2017, increasing from 82,341 to 103,815 requests. In the US, government requests increased by about 30%, of which 56% included a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user.

  • During the first half of 2018, the number of pieces of content that Facebook restricted based on local law increased 7%, from 14,280 to 15,337.
  • The report also identified 48 disruptions of Facebook services in 8 countries in H1 2018, compared to 46 disruptions in 12 countries in the second half of 2017.
  •  In H1, Facebook and Instagram took down 2,999,278 pieces of content based on 466,810 copyright reports; 203,375 pieces of content based on 69,756 trademark reports; and 641,059 pieces of content based on 29,828 counterfeit reports.