- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Facebook said on Wednesday that requests for user data from government agencies and law enforcement groups surged in the first half of 2015, with the social network site reporting an increase in demands by 18 percent worldwide.

Requests for user data spiked across the board, Facebook said in announcing the release of its Global Government Requests Report released this week. Additionally, Facebook said that governments around the globe have ramped up censorship efforts by compelling the website to keep users from accessing more content than ever before.

“Overall, we continue to see an increase in content restrictions and government requests for data globally,” said Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel.

“The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 112 percent over the second half of 2014, to 20,568 pieces of content, up from 9,707. Government requests for account data increased across all countries by 18 percent over the same period, from 35,051 requests to 41,214,” Mr. Sonderby said.

U.S. authorities led the pack with regards to user data requests, according to the report, having asked Facebook for information on 17,577 individuals spanning 26,579 accounts during the first half of 2015. Facebook complied with around 80 percent of the requests, the company acknowledged.

During that same span in 2014, American officials requested information on 15,433 accounts, according to previous reports put out by Facebook.

Users in India, meanwhile, were banned from viewing content far more than anywhere else on the planet during the first half of the year. Authorities in New Dehli ordered the website to restrict access to 15,155 pieces of content between January and July 2015, or more than triple the number of such requests made by officials in Turkey, the next most restrictive nation.

“We scrutinize each request we receive for legal sufficiency, whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary,” Facebook said.

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