Italy among top for Facebook snooping

According to transparency report following Snowden scandal

Italy among top for Facebook snooping

(By Elisa Cecchi). Rome, August 28 - Italy was among the world's top countries in seeking Facebook user data, according to the first Global Government Requests Report released on Wednesday. Italian authorities ranked fifth in the world for the number of data requests concerning criminal or national security issues, fourth on a global scale and second in Europe, after the United Kingdom, for the number of Facebook users probed. Overall, in the first six months of 2013 Italy reportedly requested Facebook to hand over data on 2,306 users. Only 53% of Italy's 1,705 requests were fulfilled. The transparency report, which is available online, was launched after a scandal involving former US National Security Agency (NSA)contractor Edward Snowden placed the social network giant and its peers under intense scrutiny over their co-operation with a sweeping surveillance system of US and foreign citizens. Snowden's revelations about massive surveillance of phone and Internet records at the US intelligence agency sparked a global scandal in June, prompting calls for more transparency. The report released by Facebook on Wednesday, which concerns 71 countries worldwide, highlighted that the US made most of the requests - 11-12,000 - asking for information on between 20,000 and 21,000 users. Indeed more than half of the orders on users data received by Facebook came from the US government. The social network giant handed over data in 79% of cases. India followed with 3,200 requests on 4,000 users. Britain ranked third worldwide with 1,900 requests on 2,300 users, followed by Germany with 1,886 applications involving 2,000 accounts. Italy ranked fifth in the world, followed by France which issued 1,500 requests on almost 1,600 users. Overall Facebook was asked to hand over data on 38,000 users from government agencies in 71 countries in the first six months of 2013, ending on June 30. The social network said requests concerned users officially under investigation. Most cases involved criminal charges including theft, robbery or abduction and the data requested mostly concerned basic information like user names or the duration of Facebook accounts. ''We have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests'', Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, said in a blog post. ''We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request". "We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests''. Facebook said it would publish regular updates to the figures released and vowed to provide more data on the nature of requests filed by judicial authorities.

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