Facebook says countries sought data on 38,000 users

Facebook says countries sought data on 38,000 users

SAN FRANCISCO - Governments sought information on over 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of 2013 and the No.1 social network complied with most requests, the firm said in its first report on the scale of data inquiries it gets from countries around the world.

The report follows allegations by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that practically every major Internet company - including Facebook, Google Inc and Microsoft Corp - routinely hands over troves of data on potentially millions of users to national intelligence agencies.

Facebook has more than 1 billion users worldwide.

US law enforcement authorities were by far the most active in mining Facebook, seeking information on about 20,000 to 21,000 users between January and June. That represents a slight rise from the six months between June and December 2012, when US agencies requested information on roughly 18,000 to 19,000 Facebook accounts, according to figures previously released by the company.

Facebook has at least partially complied to about 80 per cent of those requests, the company acknowledged on Tuesday.

Authorities in other countries with large Facebook user bases, including India, the United Kingdom andGermany, also requested information on thousands of users.

Facebook, which disclosed the figures in its first "Global Government Requests Report," said it individually scrutinized every information request and required governments to meet a "very high legal bar" to receive user data.

Although the full scope of the National Security Agency's electronic data collection programs remains unclear, Facebook has vigorously contested claims that it allows the US government unfettered access to secretly gather information on a significant fraction of its users.

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