Facebook rejects data request from Bangladesh

Facebook-BD_Report_Daily_Dhaka_TimesDaily Dhaka Times: Facebook Inc has rejected several requests by the Bangladesh government for data on users from January to July this year.

The social media giant made the disclosure in its Global Government Requests Report on Wednesday.

It noted that there has been a global increase in content restrictions and government requests for data.

Government requests for account data increased across the world by 18 percent to 41,214 from 35,051 during the January-July period, Facebook said in the report posted on its website.

It scrutinises each request it receives for legal sufficiency.

“We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases,” Facebook said about Bangladesh’s requests.

“Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague.”

It said the company “will continue to apply a rigorous approach to every government request we receive” to protect people’s information.

Last year, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Alphabet Inc, formerly Google, began publishing details about the number of government requests for data they receive.

“Facebook does not provide any government with “back doors” or direct access to people’s data,” the company said in the report.

The social networking website is generally not allowed to publicise specific requests by law enforcement and spy agencies, according to Reuters.

Government access to personal data from telephone and Web companies has become a contentious privacy issue since former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed surreptitious surveillance programs.

The technology industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns that they are working with the government and violating user privacy.

Facebook’s biannual report is one of the chief indicators of government interest in the company’s data. The social media giant is generally not allowed to publicise specific requests by law enforcement and spy agencies.

Government requests for account data globally jumped 18 percent in the first half of 2015 to 41,214 accounts, up from 35,051 requests in the second half of 2014, Facebook said in the report posted on its website.

In the first half of this year, Facebook took down 20,568 posts and other pieces of content that violated local laws, more than doubling the number taken down in the second half of 2014. Such restricted content includes anything from Nazi propaganda in Germany to depictions of violent crimes.

Facebook’s user base has grown explosively to 1.55 billion people, up from 1.4 billion in the second half of last year.

The government often requests basic subscriber information, IP addresses or account content, including people’s posts online.

The bulk of government requests came from US law enforcement agencies. US agencies requested data from 26,579 accounts – comprising more than 60 percent of requests globally – up from 21,731 accounts in the second half of 2014.

France, Germany and Britain also made up a large percentage of the requests and had far more content restricted in 2015. Some of the content taken down in Germany, for example, may relate to Holocaust denial, Facebook said.

India and Turkey were responsible for most of the content taken down for violating local laws. India had 15,155 pieces of content restricted – nearly triple the amount in the second half of 2014 – while Turkey had 4,496, up from 3,624. The number of Facebook users in India is up nearly 70 million since June 2014, to more than 190 million users.

Governments have increasingly relied on Facebook’s vast troves of user data to help investigate criminal cases, which are responsible for most of the requests, Facebook said.

“Facebook does not provide any government with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s data,” Facebook wrote.

Facebook, Microsoft Corp, Yahoo Inc and Alphabet Inc, formerly Google, last year began publishing details about the number of government requests for data they receive.


Editor: Chowdhury Arif Ahmed
Executive Editor: Saiful Alam
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