Facebook Sees 23% Spike In Law Enforcement Requests For Data In The United States

Facebook revealed it received 23 percent more requests from law enforcement between January and June 2015 than in the second half of 2014.

From January to June 2015, Facebook received a total of 17,577 law enforcement requests, targeting 26,579 users and accounts. From July to December 2014, the company received 14,274 requests affecting 21,731 accounts and users.

Facebook said it complied with 79.85 percent of these requests.

The bulk of U.S. law enforcement requests come in the form of search warrants. Facebook received almost 10,000 such requests, and it complied with about 84 percent of them.

The U.S. government is not the only one doubling down on requests from the social media company.

“Government requests for account data increased across all countries by 18 percent over the same period, from 35,051 requests to 41,214,” Facebook reported.

Globally the company is seeing a staggering increase in content restriction. The amount of content blocked for violating local laws increased 112 percent over the second half of 2014, to 20,568 pieces of content, up from 9,707, Facebook reported.

The report remained consistent in national security-related requests in the United States, though the company cannot release specific numbers when it comes to such requests. Per a law passed in the wake of the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, technology companies can release transparency reports about the data they share with U.S. intelligence agencies, but only in bands of one thousand.

Facebook has shown in the past that it does what it can to fight warrants it believes are overreaching, fighting warrants in court. The transparency report only includes times when law enforcement has had to go through legal avenues to request information from Facebook and does not even begin to represent the scope of public data that has become available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies due to social networking.

If anything, this transparency report is a reminder that the data companies disclose is still not all that transparent. Though we can see requests through legal avenues like warrants are on the rise, this report gives us little insight into how intelligence agencies are using the data we willingly hand over to Facebook.