Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter siphon up untold gigabytes of user data, which makes them obvious targets for governments and law enforcement agencies looking to gather evidence. This week in a bid for transparency, Facebook published its third ever Government Requests Report that sheds some light into the fractious and oftentimes delicate relationship between the social network and investigators.
Of note: Government requests for data and content restrictions are up considerably–24%–since the latter half of 2013. Governments around the world submitted 34,946 requests for data, each of which can include multiple accounts at a time. “As we’ve said before, we scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law,” writes Chris Sonderby, Facebook deputy general counsel, “and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests.”
Let’s take a closer look at the United States. From January 2014 to June 2014, for example, Facebook received 15,433 total requests from law enforcement for user data, such as private photos and location data via Facebook Places. Facebook, after scrutinizing every request, says it granted access to the authorities about 80% of the time.
Indeed, as more of our lives blur into digital, big data analytics and data mining are becoming the go-to tools that police will use to stay a step ahead. As we’ve reported before, Minority Report-style crime prediction may not be far off.