Government makes 1,700 Facebook data requests

The Italian government made more than 1,700 requests to Facebook in the first six months of the year to get information about users of the social network.

Government makes 1,700 Facebook data requests
In the first six months of 2013 74 governments tried to get information on 38,000 Facebook users. Images: Facebook

Italy was the fifth most active country in the world asking Facebook for data, coming in behind the US, India, Germany and the UK.

Italian authorities made 1,705 requests relating to 2,306 accounts, although Facebook released information for just 53 percent of these.

Facebook released their Global Government Requests Report on Tuesday for the first time showing that 74 governments had attempted to get information on 38,000 users.

The US was the most successful of the top five countries at receiving the information they sought, with 79 percent of requests producing data. Authorities made 11,000 to 12,000 requests in the US, well ahead of second-place India with 3,245.

The UK was the most inquisitive European nation, with 1,975 requests to Facebook, closely followed by Germany's 1,886.

Facebook did not release information of what data governments were after, be it profile information, photos or details of friends, but it said the requests were coming from “law enforcement” authorities.

They said in a statement: “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.

“We hope this report will be useful to our users in the ongoing debate about the proper standards for government requests for user information in official investigations.

“And while we view this compilation as an important first report – it will not be our last. In coming reports, we hope to be able to provide even more information about the requests we receive from law enforcement authorities.”

The company said it wanted to publish similar reports every six months and said it had “stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests.” 

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