The New Zealand government has made 106 requests to Facebook to gain access to 119 users during the first half of 2013. Facebook said it gave New Zealand around 58 per cent of the requests, containing private data of more than half of the requested users.
Government agents around the world from 74 countries wanted Facebook to divulge information on 38,000 users. Within the same time frame, half of the requests came from United States officials. The company did not reveal anything more about the nature of requests made by New Zealand.
With Facebook's revelation, it is the latest tech company to release information about government requests for data from its users. Google and Microsoft have previously released the same type of information in the name of transparency.
Like Google and Microsoft, it's difficult to get much out of anything from Facebook's data aside from the fact that it many people use Facebook from around the world. Since the company is the largest social network, intelligence and security officials followed suit.
Facebook and Twitter, another popular social media site with a micro-blogging platform, have become tools for activists to organise a collective or mass action for a particular agenda. These social media networks became targets of governments to monitor certain activities.
At the height of anti-government protests in Turkey a few months ago, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled social media as "the worst menace to society." Facebook had denied giving information to the Turkish government about the activities or whereabouts of protesters.
Facebook said Turkish authorities made 96 requests to Facebook to acquire the information of 173 users. The company said it gave information for 45 requests but there were no details given as to the nature of the information given.
Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch said in a blog post that the company refuses to comply with most of the data requests from government and does not hesitate to push back when there are legal complications.
Mr Stretch said that when Facebook gives information, it usually contains only the basics like the name. Sarah Feinberg, a Facebook representative, said that the company stands by its statement about not divulging anything to the government during the Turkish protests.
Facebook and other companies like Google and Microsoft have been previously criticised for cooperating with the US National Security Agency in secretly collecting private data of users.
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