Government requests for FB data: Singapore leads the pack
By Goh Thean Eu May 4, 2016
- Singapore made 214 requests, Malaysia had 13 requests
- More than 75% of both governments’ requests were granted
THE latest Global Government Requests Report from Facebook Inc showed that the governments of Singapore and Malaysia topped the charts in South-East Asia when it came to the number of requests to retrieve user information.
According to the report, the Singapore Government made 214 requests for 239 users’ data from July 2015 to December 2015, an 8% increase from the 198 requests in the first half of last year.
During the second half, the Malaysian Government made 13 requests for 18 users’ data, compared with the four requests it had made in the first half of 2015.
More than 75% of the requests made by both governments were granted by the social networking giant.
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The Global Government Requests Report, which Facebook began releasing in 2013, is part of the company’s broader effort to reform government surveillance by providing more transparency, it said.
“Overall, we continue to see an increase globally in government requests for user data and content restrictions pursuant to local law,” said Facebook deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby.
“Government requests for account data increased by 13%, from 41,214 requests to 46,763 [globally].
“The number of items restricted for violating local law increased over the first half of 2015, to 55,827 items, up from 20,568,” he said in an official statement.
These are requests made from governments seeking account information for use in official investigations, whether they are cases involving crime or those related to national security.
Malaysian government not so clueless now
During the second half, close to 77% (or 76.92%) of the Malaysian Government’s requests to Facebook was granted. This is also the highest ‘approval rating’ the Government has had since 2013.
In 2013, when the first report was made available, the Malaysian Government had made seven requests on 197 users/ accounts during the first half of that year. None of its requests was granted at the time.
The Malaysian Government continued to make numerous requests for data, and the percentage of requests granted by Facebook improved. In the second half 2013, it made 16 requests on 24 users, and saw 18.75% of its requests granted.
In the 2014, it made 36 requests on 46 users and more than 23% of its requests was granted.
The increase in the proportion of granted requests indicates that the Malaysian Government – which has been increasing its online censorship muscles – is finally beginning to understand what a genuine request for data entails.
During the second half of 2015, 76.17% of the Singaporean Government’s requests for data was granted, compared with 74.62% of 198 requests being granted in the first half.
A look at Singapore’s track record over the years show that most of its Government’s requests was granted – the lowest approval rate to date was 70%, in the first half of 2013.
“We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases. Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague,” said Facebook.
Indonesia, the rest of SEA
The second half of 2015 also saw none of the Indonesian Government’s requests for data (two) being granted, versus 12.5% of its eight requests being granted in the first half.
Philippines and Thailand made four and three requests respectively, while Brunei, Cambodia, and Vietnam made one request each. None of these requests was granted.
Myanmar did not make any requests for data.
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