The Indian government requested Facebook for data 6,324 times in the first half of 2016, according to the social network’s latest Global Government Requests Report. This number was up from 5,561 in the quarter before. Interestingly, Facebook’s was able to produce “some data” in 53.59% of the cases, up from just over 50 per cent in the last quarter.
Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s Deputy General Counsel said “government requests for account data increased by 27 per cent globally compared to the last half of 2015, increasing from 46,710 to 59,229 requests.” About 56 per cent of the requests from law enforcement in the United States, contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited the social network from notifying the user, he said.
“As for content restriction requests, the number of items restricted for violating local law decreased by 83 per cent from 55,827 to 9,663,” he said, attributing the spike in the half before to the French content restrictions of a single image from the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks.
For the first time, Facebook has added government requests to preserve data pending receipt of formal legal process. When such a request is received a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information in preserved. “We do not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process. During this reporting period, we received 38,675 preservation requests for 67,129 accounts.” There were 609 such request from India concerning 850 accounts.
In India, Facebook restricted access to 2,034 pieces of content “in response to legal requests from law enforcement agencies and the India Computer Emergency Response Team within the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology”. The post said a majority of such content was alleged to violate local laws against anti-religious speech and hate speech.
Since 2016, following a Supreme Court of India decision amending the proper interpretation of the Information Technology Act of 2000, the social network “ceased acting upon legal requests to remove access to content unless received by way of a binding court order and/or a notification by an authorised agency which conforms to the constitutional safeguards as directed by the Supreme Court”, the report added.