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Facebook info requests by Canadian government up in 2014

Facebook Inc. handed over some Canadian user data more than half of the time the government requested it in the last half of 2014, the social media company reveals.

Canada made 279 requests for data in last half of 2014, social media platform says in report

Facebook users are uncovering a 'hidden' message folder. (Canadian Press)

Facebook Inc. handed over some user data more than half the time the Canadian government requested it in the last half of 2014, the social media company revealed Monday in its Global Government Requests Report.

Between July and December 2014, Facebook parsed 279 requests from the Canadian government that it considered "valid requests relating to criminal cases." Of those requests, info was sought concerning 355 accounts.

Facebook said that in 57.71 per cent of the Canadian requests, some data was produced. By comparison, Canada made 192 requests in the first half of 2013, resulting in some disclosure of data in 44 per cent of requests.

Worldwide, the company said it recorded a slight increase in government requests for account data in the second half of 2014, with requests increasing to 35,051 in the second half of 2014 from 34,946 in the first half.

We will continue to scrutinize each government request and push back when we find deficiencies.- Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management

Requests from countries such as India were rising, according to the Facebook report, while those from others including United States and Germany fell slightly.

Facebook said it restricted 9,707 pieces of content for violating local laws, 11 per cent more than in the first half, with access restricted to 5,832 pieces in India and 3,624 in Turkey.

"We will continue to scrutinize each government request and push back when we find deficiencies," Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management wrote in a blog post. "We will also continue to push governments around the world to reform their surveillance practices in a way that maintains the safety and security of their people while ensuring their rights and freedoms are protected"

'Overbroad' requests disputed

Bickert said Facebook challenges requests that appear to be "unreasonable" or "overbroad," and if a country requests content be removed because it is illegal, Facebook may restrict access only in that country.

The technology industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns about their involvement in vast, surreptitious surveillance programs revealed by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google last year began publishing details about the number of government requests for data they receive.

Facebook on Sunday also updated its community standards to tell users what types of posts are not allowed on the service, providing guidance on policies related to self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation.

With files from CBC News

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