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Facebook turns down Egyptian government requests

Requests by the Egyptian government to access the information of 11 users were turned down by Facebook, the social networking website revealed Wednesday in its first Global Government Requests Report.

Facebook’s report covers the first six months of 2013, ending on June 30, detailing which countries requested information about users, the number of requests received from each country, the number of users/user accounts specified in those requests, and the percentage of requests in which they were legally required to disclose at least some data.

Egypt has reportedly made eight requests to access the data of 11 users, all of which were turned down by Facebook.

The company explained that it is releasing the report because “transparency and trust are core values at Facebook.”

“We want to make sure that the people who use our service understand the nature and extent of the requests we receive, and the strict policies and processes we have in place to handle them,” the company added.

In its report, Facebook revealed that it received the most requests from the US, making 11,000-12,000 which made requests to access the data of 20,000–21,000 users. Facebook handed over some data in response to 79 percent of these requests.  

Facebook called on governments to “provide greater transparency about their efforts aimed at keeping the public safe”, saying it will continue to push for “greater disclosure.”

Privacy International, a UK-based charity that defends and promotes privacy and challenges surveillance globally, “commended” Facebook for releasing the report given the company’s “ever-growing presence in the lives of people around the world.”  

While Privacy International welcomed the report, describing it as a “release that has been a long time coming,” it also cautioned that “We now know that these reports only provide a limited picture of what is going on, and it is time that governments allow companies to speak more freely regarding the orders they receive.”

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