Like many other online services, Facebook releases regular transparency reports disclosing requests for user information from law enforcement agencies. Its latest report shows that it’s pretty happy to hand over data to Australian cops: more than two-thirds of those requests received a positive response.
Picture: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
During July to December 2014, Facebook received 829 requests from Australia, covering a total of 933 accounts. Of those requests, 68.64% were granted. That figure has been fairly consistent: in the previous three half years it was 60.33%, 65.51% and 64%.
So it doesn’t seem that the controversial proposals for retaining more metadata in Australia would make much difference when it comes to Facebook (assuming you’d made your account sufficiently private in the first place). That data is already willingly handed over the law enforcement most of the time.
One interesting feature of Facebook’s approach is that it also provides some detail around content removal requests. “We restricted access to three items in compliance with a request from a local state consumer affairs regulator for violating local laws that ban ‘false and misleading information.’ We also restricted one page in compliance with Australia’s federal anti-discrimination laws.” That’s welcome news, but given the amount of super-dubious advertising and scam pages that pop up on Facebook, it really is just the tip of the iceberg.