Facebook is joining the likes of Google, Twitter, and Microsoft and is releasing some data on the number – but not the type – of government and law enforcement requests it gets for information on users.Facebook's values are rather broad and vague, since all types of requests are bundled together, but it's still a step in the right direction. The requests are grouped by country, but the US data is revealed as a range rather than the exact figures provided for every other territory.
"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," Facebook's General Counsel Colin Stretch explained.
"And while we view this compilation as an important first report - it will not be our last. In coming reports, we hope to be able to provide even more information about the requests we receive from law enforcement authorities," he added.
In total, there have been at least 25,607 requests for the first half of the year, up to June 30. Those requests were for data on over 37,954 different accounts.
Facebook is also providing a percentage of the number of demands it complied with, ranging from 100 percent in Hong Kong, where it got one request, to 0 in territories like South Africa or Uganda.
Most requests though, between 11,000 and 12,000 come from the US, affecting 20,000 to 21,000 users. Facebook doesn't explain how many of those are for criminal investigations and how many come from the NSA or via secret court orders.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook reiterated a common demand these days, asking the US government for more transparency, i.e. the permission to post exact numbers for the secret requests as well.
"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. Government transparency and public safety are not mutually exclusive ideals. Each can exist simultaneously in free and open societies, and they help make us stronger," Stretch added.