India leads in asking Facebook to censor content
Facebook - AFP/Lionel Bonaventure

LOS ANGELES: Facebook has released its second transparency report, detailing the government requests it has received for censoring content and information on users from July 2013 to December 2013. 

According to the report, India leads in asking the social networking website to censor content. In seeking information on user accounts, India is in the second place behind the U.S.

In the second half of 2013, Facebook censored 4,765 pieces of content in India at the request of government authorities.

The Facebook report shows that developed countries made fewer requests. In fact, after the U.S. and India, United Kingdom and Italy are the only two countries that have made requests to seek information on more than 2,000 Facebook accounts. In the second half of 2013, Italy sought information on 2,613 accounts while the UK asked for information on 2,277 accounts.

Among developing countries, Brazil sought information on 1,651 accounts. Pakistan sought information on 163 accounts while Sri Lanka made only three requests, seeking details of three Facebook accounts.

“People around the world want to understand the nature and extent of government requests services like Facebook receive, and how companies respond to them,” Colin Stretch, Facebook counsel, said on the official blog. “Today we are releasing our second Government Requests Report. We have expanded on our first report to include information not only about government requests for account information, but also about government requests to restrict or remove content from our service on the grounds that it violates local law.”

Stretch adds that when Facebook gets a government request, the company follows a proper procedure before deciding whether to act on the request or ignore it. “We review (request) with care, and, even where we conclude that it is legally sufficient, we only restrict access to content in the requesting country,” said Stretch. “We take a similar approach to government requests for account information.”

Stretch said that even when Facebook complies with the government requests it tries to share only the basic information. “When we are required to provide information, in most instances we share basic information only – such as name and IP address,” he said.

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