India tops Facebook’s list for content restriction requests

Facebook has restricted access to over 15,000 pieces of information on its website in India during the first six months of 2015 — the highest for any country, following requests from the government and law enforcement agencies.

“We restricted access in India to content reported primarily by law enforcement agencies and the India Computer Emergency Response Team within the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology because it was anti-religious and hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India,” Facebook said.

In its Government Requests Report, the social networking platform said the number of pieces of content restricted by India stood at 15,155 in January-June 2015. The number is significantly higher compared to 5,832 in July-December 2014 and 4,960 requests in January-June 2014.

There is an increase in content restrictions and government requests for data globally.

The amount of content restricted for violating local law stood at 20,568 worldwide, more than doubling from the second half of 2014, when the social networking firm took down 9,707 pieces of content.

Turkey had the second highest number of content restricted at 4,496, followed by France (295), Israel (195), Germany (188) and Austria (170).

India is also ranked second, just behind the U.S., for government requests for access to information on users and accounts.

Facebook said it received 5,115 total requests for data on 6,268 accounts or users from the Indian government. It added that percentage of requests where some data were produced stood at 45.32 per cent during January-June 2015. For the U.S., the number stood at 17,577 concerning 26,579 accounts.

The social networking major, however, added, “Facebook does not provide any government with “back doors” or direct access to people’s data. We scrutinise each request we receive for legal sufficiency, whether from an authority in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back hard and will fight in court, if necessary.”