State sought data on 40 Irish Facebook users

Report reveals more than 38,000 users targeted globally

Facebook’s  Global Government Requests Report revealed the number of official data requests

Facebook’s Global Government Requests Report revealed the number of official data requests

 



Irish authorities have made numerous requests for information on Facebook users here in the first six months of 2013, the social media giant has revealed.

In total, there were 34 applications through official channels, relating to a total of 40 Irish account holders between January and June. Some 71 per cent of the requests, or more than two in three, were granted although the level of information involved varied.

The number is almost invisible in the broader context however; governments and law enforcement officials across the world attempted to secure information on over 38,000 people.

The figures were released yesterday by Facebook in the first of what it called a Global Government Requests Report and it has undertaken to publish such material regularly.

According to the report, the vast majority of requests relate to criminal activity and generally seek subscriber information such as name and length of time on the site, as well as IP addresses, which identify a computer and its location, and sometimes actual account content.

Facebook’s disclosure follows the revelations by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden that numerous household-name technology companies have routinely handed over information to authorities on request. Facebook reiterated its stance that it has a “stringent process” in place for dealing with such requests which are met with a “very high legal bar”, demanding justification for granting access.

“We scrutinise each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request,” it said.

“We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad and vague requests.”

The decision by Facebook and other tech firms such as Microsoft and Google to disclose the number of data requests from law enforcement agencies follows criticisms from civil rights campaigners.