Facebook has released its new Global Government Requests Report, and this time around it includes some case studies as examples of the types of requests it gets. The report also includes a bigger bit of information — the company says that about 60-percent of the government requests it received in the second half of 2015 included gag orders that prevented Facebook from notifying the affected users. On the flip side, though, Facebook has been able to disclose national security requests in bands of 500 rather than the previous 1000 it had to use before.
The case studies help shine some light on the numbers we see — most notably, the social network says that the jump in restricted content listed for the latter half of 2015 is due to a single photo taken during the terrorist attack in Paris. The image is covered under a French law that protects human dignity, and as such the social network restricted users’ access to more than 32,000 copies of the photo.
The social network went out of its way to emphasize that it “does not provide the government with back doors or direct access to people’s data,” something that was alleged early on during the Snowden debacle, and resulted in sharp backlash from numerous companies.
You can view the full Facebook report for all the countries in which it operates here. Looking at just the U.S. numbers, we see Facebook says its received 19,235 requests from July to December 2015. Those requests affected 30,041 users/accounts, and 81.41% resulted in data being provided. Most of the requests came in the form of search warrants, with subpoenas being second, pen registers being third, followed in order by emergency disclosures, court orders of the 18 USD 2703(d) variety, other court orders, and, finally, Title III requests.
In a statement, Facebook said that it is seeing a continual increase in how many government requests it receives around the world — both for user content and for restricting content. Account data requests are up 13-percent, reaching nearly 47k, while the instances of content restriction jumped from 20,568 to 55,827.