Privacy Law

Facebook answers only 37% of government information requests

Facebook has published its Global Government Requests Report. The report details the number of requests for information the social network receives from governments around the world.

From the data it is clear that Facebook is reluctant to answer German government requests, as it responds to just over one third of information requests only.

Facebook answers fewer German government information requests © simsalabin1-Fotolia

Facebook answers fewer German government information requests © simsalabin1-Fotolia

Government information requests

According to the report “Governments make requests to Facebook and many other companies seeking account information in official investigations. The vast majority of these requests relate to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings. In many of these cases, these government requests seek basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or actual account content.”

From this statement it is clear that Facebook recognises that many information requests concern questions of high societal and legal interest, including assisting with criminal investigations. The social networks policy of only answering 37% of German government requests for information could be questioned.

USA: number one for information requests

The report shows that that the US government is at the top of this list in terms of the number of information requests received. Facebook received 11,000 to 12,000 requests concerning 20,000 to 21,000 profiles. Seventy-nine per cent of the requests were answered.

India is second with 3,245 requests concerning 4,144 profiles, 50% of which were answered. The United Kingdom is third with 1,975 requests about 2,335 profiles, with 68% of requests receiving a response.

Germany’s government sent 1,886 requests concerning 2,068 profiles, but only 37% of requests were answered.

Facebook demands more transparency

Facebook claims that transparency and trust belong to its core values and called on governments to be more transparent about their attempts to safeguard national security.

From the data, it can be seen that the social network refuses to grant government information requests which are too vague, too broadly drafted, or when legal concerns are present. However, Facebook claims that if it is forced to reply to information requests, it supplies only general information, such as a name.

German government requests

With 63% of requests rejected, it seems that many of the German government’s information requests are either too broadly drafted, vague or are legally unsound.

Rafaela Wilde is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE.

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