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India’s Request for Facebook Users Data Hits New High, Ranks Second Only to US

© REUTERS / Dado Ruvic A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019
 A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): In the first half of 2019, requests for Facebook users’ data from governments worldwide increased by 16 per cent from 110,634 to 128,617, with the US continuing to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the UK and Germany, media reports quoted Facebook’s Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby as saying.

According to Facebook's Transparency Report, the Indian government sent Facebook 22,684 queries about users in the first six months of the year 2019 and the social networking giant has provided data in 54 per cent of cases.

During the period from January-June and then in July-December of 2018, Facebook received 16,580 and 20,805 requests, respectively.

The US government sent Facebook a total of 50,741 requests for user data in the same period; the report pointed out. 

Classifying the requests, Sonderby added the maximum requests it receives are legal, backed by an authorised process such as a search warrant. Just 7 per cent (1,615) of the 22,684 requests made by the Government of India were emergency related.

The US, on the other hand, made 47,457 legal requests, of which 3,284 were emergency requests. Nearly 88 per cent of the total requests were responded to with at least some information.

"Based on the circumstances, we may voluntarily disclose information to law enforcement where we have a good-faith reason to believe that the matter involves an imminent risk of serious physical injury or death," the report said.

"We always scrutinise every government request we receive for account data to make sure it is legally valid. This is true no matter which government makes the request... We do not provide governments with back doors to people's information," it added.

The development comes on the backdrop of the Indian government asking Facebook to help it decrypt private messages on its network, prioritising national security requirements. It has been argued in the Supreme Court of India by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that it's the responsibility of social media sites to share information whenever it comes to a country's national security.

 But Facebook's lawyer Mukul Rohtagi said the company was not obliged to share users' data with the Indian government.


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