Facebook: Governments demanded data on 38K users - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Facebook: Governments demanded data on 38K users

Posted: Updated:
Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com

By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, the company said Tuesday.

The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers. Microsoft and Google have done the same.

As with the other companies, it's hard to discern much from Facebook's data, besides the fact that, as users around the globe flocked to the world's largest social network, police and intelligence agencies followed.

Facebook and Twitter have become organizing platforms for activists and, as such, have become targets for governments. During anti-government protests in Turkey in May and June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called social media "the worst menace to society."

At the time, Facebook denied it provided information about protest organizers to the Turkish government.

Data released Tuesday show authorities in Turkey submitted 96 requests covering 173 users. Facebook said it provided some information in about 45 of those cases, but there's no information on what was turned over and why.

"We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests," Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel company said in a blog post. "When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name."

Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said the company stands by its assertions that it gave no information regarding the Turkey protests.

"The data included in the report related to Turkey is about child endangerment and emergency law enforcement requests," she said.

Facebook and other technology companies have been criticized for helping the National Security Agency secretly collect data on customers. Federal law gives government the authority to demand data without specific warrants, and while companies can fight requests in secret court hearings, it's an uphill battle.

Facebook turned over some data in response to about 60 percent of those requests.

It's not clear from the Facebook data how many of the roughly 26,000 government requests on 38,000 users were for law-enforcement purposes and how many were for intelligence gathering.

Technology and government officials have said criminal investigations are far more common than national security matters as a justification for demanding information from companies.

The numbers are imprecise because the federal government forbids companies from revealing how many times they've been ordered to turn over information about their customers. Facebook released only a range of figures for the United States.

The company said it planned to start releasing these figures regularly.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Ohio women held captive want Joan Rivers to apologize

    Ohio women held captive want Joan Rivers to apologize

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:31:34 GMT
    CLEVELAND, Ohio. (CBS News)- Attorneys for two women held in a Cleveland home and abused for a decade say Joan Rivers should apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity they experienced.More >>
    CLEVELAND, Ohio. (CBS News)- Attorneys for two women held in a Cleveland home and abused for a decade say Joan Rivers should apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity they experienced.More >>
  • Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list

    Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:24 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:24:51 GMT
    (CNN) -- The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor.More >>
    (CNN) -- The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor.More >>
  • Woman settles with TSA over breast milk incident

    Woman settles with TSA over breast milk incident

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:33:52 GMT
    PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS News) - A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.SMore >>
    PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS News) - A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.SMore >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KALB. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.