Centre for Internet & Society

India has again topped the list of content restriction requests in the second half of 2014 with over 5,800 requests recorded in Facebook's Government Requests Report released on Sunday.

The article by Neha Alawadhi was published in the Economic Times on March 17, 2015. Pranesh Prakash gave his inputs.

"Overall, we continue to see an increase in government requests for data and content restrictions. The amount of content restricted for violating local law increased by 11% over the previous half, to 9,707 pieces of content restricted, up from 8,774," said Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, and Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel, in a statement on the social networking website.

Facebook saw a rise in content restriction requests from countries like Turkey and Russia, while requests from countries like Pakistan came down. The number of content restriction requests from Pakistan came down to 54 in the second half of 2014 from 1,773 in the first half. The number of content restriction requests from India rose to 5,832 from 4,960 in the first half.

India has been the top requestor for content restrictions in the past one and a half years, and the number of these requests and for user account data from the country have consistently been on the rise.

Facebook said that while the number of government requests for user account data remained relatively flat in the six-month period, there was an increase in data requests from "governments such as India, and decline in requests from countries such as the United States and Germany".

India made 5,473 requests for user account data in the six months ending December 2014, second only to the United States, which made 14,274 requests in the same period. About 45% of the requests made by India led to Facebook producing some data, according to the report, while 79% of the requests made by the US were complied with.

"Of course, the figures are alarming... But it would have been better if Facebook had also given us more information on the kind of data that was being asked for. Now we only have consolidated figures. So what kind of data was asked for, that would have been more useful," said counsel for the Software Freedom Law Centre.

India is the second largest market for Facebook, with 112 million users until last year, second only to the United States. According to Pranesh Prakash, policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society, "the number of content restriction requests are not only high on an absolute number, but even on a per-user basis".