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Government requests for Facebook user data increasing

Facebook has revealed that governments around the world are requesting more user data than ever before.

The social network confirmed that the second half of 2014 saw account data requests increase to 35,051, compared to 34,946 for the first half of the year.

Read more: EU claims Facebook’s privacy policy is so obtuse it’s illegal

Facebook revealed the information in its Government Requests Report, which seeks to bring greater transparency to government data requests

The firm's head of global policy management Monika Bickert explained that the company is trying to prevent widespread and unjustified surveillance.

“We want people to know the extent and nature of the requests we receive from governments and the policies we have in place to process them,” she said. “Moving forward, we will continue to scrutinize each government request and push back when we find deficiencies. We will also continue to push governments around the world to reform their surveillance practices in a way that maintains the safety and security of their people while ensuring their rights and freedoms are protected.”

The report also revealed that Facebook restricted 9,707 pieces of content for violating local laws in the latter half of 2014, up 11 per cent from the first six months of the year, with an increased number of restriction requests coming from Turkey and Russia. Although many of these restrictions do not contravene Facebook’s community standards, if they go against domestic regulations they will still be removed.

Facebook is just one of several technology firms that are promoting increased transparency in the face of ever growing government data requests. Following Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the endemic surveillance programmes taking place in the US and elsewhere, the general public has become more aware of threats to their privacy.

Read more: GCHQ surveillance cleared by government report

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all began publishing information regarding government requests for user data last year.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.