Each year, Facebook receives tens of thousands requests for Facebook users’ data for a multitude of reasons. Not all requests are honored, as the Deputy General Counsel of Facebook explained in a blog, “We do not provide governments with ‘back doors’ or direct access to people’s information. We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to push governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms.”
With Facebook’s stance in mind, a bi-annual report published Facebook indicates that for the first half of 2016, the social media giant saw a 27% increase in requests when compared to the second half of 2015. This upward trend can be seen for the past few years. For 2015, there was a 13% increase from the first half of the year to the second half, and an 18% increase in requests between the last 6 months of 2014 and the first six months of 2015.
Breaking down the types of requests, US law enforcement agencies made the majority of the requests, with requests related to search warrants being the most common type of request, totaling 13,742 of the 23,854 requests made by law enforcement. Other types of requests from US law enforcement agencies included IP address traces and subpoenas.
499 other secret requests were made under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Companies that receive FISA requests are not allowed to provide detailed figures pertaining to the FISA requests, and they are also required to delay reporting total figures for a period of at least 6 months.