Aug 29, 2013

    FB acceded to 7 in 10 S'pore data requests

    FACEBOOK was required by law to disclose at least some data in 70 per cent of user-data requests by the Singapore Government.

    This was revealed in a report released yesterday by the online social-networking site, which detailed the number of requests for user data it had received from over 70 governments worldwide.

    This was a first for Facebook.

    According to Facebook's report, which covers the first six months of this year, the Singapore Government had sent in 107 requests for information about 117 accounts.

    The report said the "vast majority" of requests from governments were made to facilitate official investigations related to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings. Some also pertained to issues of national security.

    Government requests mostly seek basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. But there were some cases in which requests were made for IP address logs or actual account content, said the report.

    When contacted on the Facebook data requests, a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman said: "As part of the evidence-gathering process provided for under the law, law-enforcement agencies in Singapore may request from persons or organisations information that will help in their investigations into criminal cases."

    The United States had the most number of data requests of between 11,000 and 12,000, accounting for almost half of all requests globally.

    The country's requests for information involved 20,000 to 21,000 accounts, and some data had been produced for 79 per cent of its requests.

    In the report, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said: "As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests."

    Mr Stretch said Facebook fought many of these requests, "pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests".

    "We believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent," he added.