Facebook on Wednesday revealed that Israel was among the 71 governments that
requested information from the social media giant about its users.
first six months of 2013, Israel made 113 requests for data on 132 accounts, and
Facebook provided at least some data in 50 percent of the cases, according to
the company’s first Global Government Request Report. Israel ranked 18th on the
list, based on number of requests.
The United States topped the list by
significant amounts, requesting information on a total of 20,000-21,000 Facebook
users through 11,000- 12,000 requests. Of those requests, Facebook submitted
some data 79% of the time. In comparison, the No. 2 requester on the list,
India, submitted 3,245 requests, under a third as many as the
According to the report, most of the requests related to criminal
cases, such as robberies or kidnappings, in which government bodies sought
information ranging from name, to IP address logs, to content posted on
“The bodies empowered to request data vary from country to
country, but I believe in Israel it is the police,” a Facebook spokeswoman told
The Jerusalem Post. Police could not confirm whether or under what circumstances
they had turned to Facebook for information.
Privacy issues have been in
the public spotlight since Edward Snowden, a US government contractor, revealed
the existence of government snooping programs that collect data on telephone
calls, emails, and other Internet communications.
cooperated with the government in providing data have scrambled to reassure
“We have stringent processes in place to handle all
government data requests. We believe this process protects the data of the
people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal
bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any
of our users,” Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch wrote in a
The fact that many people leave their Facebook privacy settings
open can help criminal investigators find data without turning to the company;
lists of “dumb criminals who got caught after posting on Facebook” abound on the
But the company turning over private information is a different
matter, one which it says it does under legal obligation.
“We fight many
of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing
the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with
a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as
name,” Stretch wrote.
Though Facebook laid out US laws that compel it to
turn over user information, such as subpoenas in criminal investigations, it
does not detail which laws in Israel apply.