Qatar and Egypt requested user details from Facebook

Facebook’s first global government requests report released August 27 2013, Qatar and Egypt were listed as the only two Middle Eastern and Arab governments requesting user information, both of which were denied. According to the report, Qatar requested information on 3 individuals and Egypt requested information on 11 users on Facebook.

The report also shows that government agencies demanded access to the information of more than 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, over half of which were requested by the US and India. India alone wanted access to 4,144 Facebook user information files, of which 50% were granted by Facebook.

The report says that in many cases governments are requesting basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. Other requests also seek users’ IP address logs or actual account content. However Facebook reviews each individual request before deciding to reveal any information on its users.

“Transparency and trust are core values at Facebook. We strive to embody them in all aspects of our services, including our approach to responding to government data requests,” Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said.

“We want to make sure that the people who use our service understand the nature and extent of the requests we receive and the strict policies and processes we have in place to handle them.”

In June, Facebook’s head of public policy in Europe Richard Allan said he agreed with national security arguments that access to personal information and internet activity is important to protect the public from terrorism. He also stated that it was up to privacy advocates to “push back” against attempts to increase internet surveillance, should the public disagree with government measures to collect user data.

“Ultimately it’s a political decision that says ‘we’re not going to give you people in security all you want, and accept that some people may get killed from that’,” Allan said during a panel discussion at the Freedom Online conference in Tunis.

“That’s the reality, that’s what they’re saying to ministers, ‘that if you do not give me this data, people will die’.

“They won’t catch as many bad guys as they would otherwise but we all feel a little but freer.”

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