Facebook to Provide Information about Specific Accounts to Government of Pakistan

The government’s effort to get data of specific accounts on social media giant Facebook have reached to a increase of 52.38% from last year. Under the National Action Plan, the governments in the first half of this year made 192 requests to access data on social media website Facebook. Though the popular social media site appears to have stopped blocking posts in the country.

In Facebook’s recent country-by-country bi-annual transparency report released last week, it revealed that during January and June 2015, it had received 192 entreaties from Pakistan for access to 275 users and their accounts through social media platforms under its control, like the popular social network, Facebook’s messaging app Messenger, photo sharing app Instagram and instant messenger WhatsApp. Facebook recently released the figures related to government requests on November 11, 2015. According to Facebook, they only “respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases.” It has already given data in just 58.33% of the requests made.

Facebook to Provide Information about Specific Accounts to Government of Pakistan

During July to December 2014 Pakistan’s requests were 100, whereas account requests were 152. Government sources revealed that the requests were made to Facebook through Pakistan Telecom Authority, as the authority has no technology to block or access information of users or any specific account.

Various law enforcement agencies through the Ministry of Interior requested PTA to get access to suspected terrorist or criminal’s accounts along with IP addresses, so it could be blocked, a source said. The government had to go through a long process to convince Facebook management why they wanted the data and how any of the contents is violating the Pakistani laws, sources revealed.

The requests increased due to the operation going on against terrorists, as many agencies became more attentive and promoted more requests regarding terror suspects. According to the Facebook’s country request report, the access to content was limited on reports of National Response Centre for cyber crimes.

Digital rights group Digital Rights Foundation in a statement on Sunday said that this increase was worrying.

“Going by the increase in current and past government request data, it is more than likely that the number of requests by governments will increase over time.”

Pakistan’s uptick in data requests though follows a worldwide drift where Facebook states government requests for account data increased among all countries by 18% over the second half of 2014, from 35,051 requests to 41,214.

“Overall, we continue to see an increase in content restrictions and government requests for data globally.”

Said Facebook’s Deputy General Consul Chris Sonderby in a blog post.

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