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News 29 Aug 13

Facebook Divulges Balkan Requests for Data

In a report, the social network revealed that governments in Southeast Europe sought information about 87 Facebook users in the first half of 2013, while its response to such requests varied greatly. 

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

Romania made the highest number of requests in the region, 16 in total, seeking information about 36 users. In 63 per cent of cases, Facebook provided some data.

The country receiving the largest percentage of positive responses from Facebook was Albania, which filed six requests about 12 users. In 83 per cent of these it got some information from Facebook.

Bosnia filed four requests for information on 11 people. In 25 per cent of these cases Facebook provided a positive response. Macedonia made nine requests for information on 11 Facebook users. Facebook responded to 33 per cent of the requests.

Bulgaria and Serbia each filed only request about one user. Croatia and Montenegro each sought data on two users. Kosovo filed two requests seeking information on 11 people. None of these requests met a positive response, however.

The data from the Balkans form part of a report by Facebook, which reveals the extent of inquiries from government agencies throughout the world.

“As we have said many times, we believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent,” Facebook said in a statement.

“We hope this report will be useful to our users in the ongoing debate about the proper standards for government requests for user information in official investigations,” it added.

The report comes on the heels of allegations by runaway intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, that nearly every major Internet company, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, routinely hand over troves of data to intelligence agencies.  

Facebook has a billion users worldwide. More than half of the 38,000 requests for user data it received in the first six months of 2013 came from US government agencies.

US authorities sought the personal data of nearly 21,000 users between January and June and Facebook said that it complied with 80 per cent of these requests.  

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