Facebook published a report Tuesday on its Web site with data on the requests the company receives from foreign countries about its users -- including the percentage of requests in which Facebook is required by law to disclose at least some data.
Some 70 countries asked for account information about 17,940 Facebook users during the first six months in 2013. The United States government made the most requests for information -- about 11,000 to 12,000 on between 20,000 and 21,000 Facebook accounts. India came in with the second most requests at 3,245; followed by the United Kingdom with 1,975; Germany with 1,886; and France with 1,547.In an FAQ, Facebook explains that governments make requests seeking account information in official investigations. The majority relate to criminal activity, such as robberies or kidnappings. Governments sometimes request basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or actual account content. The company said it has strict guidelines to deal with government data requests.
"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," Colin Stretch, Facebook general council, wrote in the blog post. He continued: "We strongly encourage all governments to provide greater transparency about their efforts aimed at keeping the public safe, and we will continue to be aggressive advocates for greater disclosure."