Privacy & Security

Facebook: U.S. Wanted Data On 20,000 Of Its Users This Year

Facebook has issued a report on government requests for its user data. i i

Facebook has issued a report on government requests for its user data. Flickr/Scott Beale hide caption

itoggle caption Flickr/Scott Beale
Facebook has issued a report on government requests for its user data.

Facebook has issued a report on government requests for its user data.

Flickr/Scott Beale

In its first "Global Government Requests Report," Facebook has released details on the number of requests it has gotten from government agents for user data.

Facebook reveals that governments around the globe have made 38,000 total requests for user data in the first half of 2013, and the U.S. dwarfs the rest of the world in requests. Up to June 30, the U.S. government asked Facebook for access to accounts of between 20,000 and 21,000 users, the company said.

Facebook has more than 1.1 billion users globally.

These requests pertained to "both criminal and national security" matters, according to Facebook, and the company cooperated with 79 percent of these. That compliance rate is exceeded only by Taiwan, Albania and the handful of countries that made only one request.

In the last six months of 2012, Google reported about 8,500 requests from the U.S. government and fulfilled 88 percent of them. You may notice that the total request number is significantly lower than Facebook's. Facebook has joined Google, Microsoft and others in pushing to put out this information, and much more.

A breakdown of the percentage of successful requests for Facebook data, by country.

A breakdown of the percentage of successful requests for Facebook data, by country. Aly Hurt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Aly Hurt/NPR

"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," writes Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel.

Internet freedom groups have chimed in with similar sentiments.

"It's disappointing that Facebook is still prohibited by law from disclosing specific information about the number of foreign intelligence and national security-related data demands it receives from the U.S. government," said the Center for Democracy and Technology's Kevin Bankston, in a statement. "We would strongly prefer that Facebook report specific numbers about the different types of government requests that they receive."

The report includes a country-by-country list of requests from around the world. Read the full report here. (Facebook account required.)

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