India 2nd to US once again in requesting Facebook user data

PTI New Delhi | Updated on November 20, 2020

User data up 33% in first half of 2020; India tops in Internet disruptions: Report

The Indian government has sent the second highest number of requests seeking user data to Facebook in the first half of 2020. India continued to top the list when it comes to Internet disruptions.

Facebook received 35,560 requests from the Government of India for user data during the first half of 2020 — second only to the US globally for the second time after 2019, according to the latest Transparency Report.

When compared to the same period of 2019, this is a 57 per cent increase (government had sent 22,684 queries) and a rise of 33 per cent when compared to the July-December of 2019 (government had submitted 26,698 queries).

Privacy concerns

“We comply with government requests for user information only where we have a good-faith belief that the law requires us to do so. In addition, we assess whether a request is consistent with internationally recognised standards on human rights, including due process, privacy, free expression and the rule of law,” Chris Sonderby, VP and Deputy General Counsel at Facebook said in a blog post.

Further, Facebook said that in the first half of 2020, it witnessed about 53 instances of Internet disruptions affecting its services in 10 countries. India continued to top the list with 42 such disruptions. The total duration of disruptions in India was 38 weeks, 3 days and 19 hours.

The US continued to submit the largest number of requests (61,528), followed by India, Germany (11,211), France (11,086), UK (9,185), Brazil (7,517), Turkey (6,171) and Poland (4,572). Globally, in the first six months of 2020, government requests for user data went up 23 per cent from 1,40,875 to 1,73,592.

Content restrictions

However, during this time-frame, the volume of content restrictions based on local law increased 40 per cent globally. In part, this was due to Covid-related restrictions, the report said.

As per available data, in the July-September quarter, Facebook took action on 22.1 million pieces of content for hate speech, of which 94.7 per cent was flagged by it before users reported the content. Additionally, it acted on 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram during the quarter. Facebook and Twitter have come under heavy fire for spreading hate and misinformation, which has forced these companies to come up with measures to tackle them.

In line with this, Facebook has launched its Oversight Board to moderate content and reduce instances of misinformation. During the period, Facebook took down 3.7 million content pieces based on 6,59,444 copyright reports, 4,04,078 pieces of content based on 1,66,310 trademark reports, and 13,08,834 pieces based on 97,186 counterfeit reports.

Published on November 20, 2020

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