Govt Demands for Facebook User Data Increase Rapidly

The Pakistani government has doubled its user data requests on Facebook over the last six months of 2015.

Details about Government Requests over User Data to Facebook

The government made 471 user data requests related to 706 Facebook accounts during the latter half of the previous year. The number of requests have more than doubled compared to the first half of 2015. The information was released in a recent bi-annual transparency report, dubbed Global Government Requests Report, issued by Facebook.

During January to June 2015, Pakistani government made 192 requests related to 275 Facebook accounts. When compared with the requests made during the latter half of the year, numbers show a rapid increase of 145 percent during the second half.

The social network reported that, “Based on legal requests from the Pakistan Telecom Authority, Facebook restricted access to six items that were alleged to violate local laws prohibiting blasphemy.”

Out of the 471 requests made in the second half of 2015, Facebook responded to 66.45 percent of the cases.

A Worrying Trend

Founder & Director of Digital Rights Foundation, Nighat Daad, said “Not only is there an alarming increase in the number of data requests made by the Pakistan government, but the instances when Facebook obliged the requests are also increasing.” She noted that there is no judicial supervision over the legal procedures adopted by both parties in the transfer of data.

At the moment, she said, Facebook holds the right to accept or deny any data requests it processes. However, after the approval of the Cyber Crime Bill, the social network will be legally bound to share any data request made by the government. “The rise in complaints also shows how rigorously the government wants to control the internet,” she pointed out.

She was keen on the importance of these international companies and their involvement in providing data privacy to their users and that the sole responsibility does not lie with the governments. Facebook has reported an overall global rise in government requests for user data and content restrictions.

The report states that “Government requests for account data rose by 13pc, from 41,214 requests to 46,763. The number of items restricted for violating local law increased over the first half of 2015, to 55,827 items, up from 20,568. However, the social network says it only “responds to valid requests relating to criminal cases”.

Facebook added that each government request is individually handled, checked for legal sufficiency and is rejected in case the required specifications are not meant or the request is too vague.

He is the Editor at ProPakistani. Reach him at [email protected]