India tops the list in Facebook censorship: reports

Monday, 14 April 2014 - 7:07am IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

Facebook has released its second transparency report for government requests between July and December 2013 and India leads in number of requests when it comes to censoring content.

The Indian government made 3,598 requests, and asked for access to over 4,711 accounts. Facebook complied with over 53.66 per cent requests which is quite a large number for a period of six months. Facebook's report also notes that India had over 4,765 requests for content censorship. The report says that Facebook "restricted access in India to a number of pieces of content reported primarily by law enforcement officials and the India Computer Emergency Response Team [the Government organisation under Ministry of Communications and Information Technology] under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state."

Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, wrote in Facebook's blog: "When we receive a government request seeking to enforce those laws, we review it with care, and, even where we conclude that it is legally sufficient, we only restrict access to content in the requesting country. We do not remove content from our service entirely unless we determine that it violates our community standards. We take a similar approach to government requests for account information.

When we receive a request for information, we carefully assess whether we are legally required to comply."

There is still a lot of information lacking in the report in terms of how or why a piece of information on an account is sought, and specific details of the request still remain vague. Besides, Facebook still has a long way to go as far as transparency is concerned.

It is almost impossible for the user to really know what happens to his or her personal data when using Facebook. For example "removed" content is not really deleted by Facebook and it is often unclear what Facebook exactly does with our data. Users have to deal with vague and contradictory privacy policies and cannot fully estimate the consequences of using Facebook.

A company that constantly asks its costumers to be as transparent as possible is expected to be equally transparent when it comes to the use of its costumers' personal data. India does not have any protection like that the Europeans enjoy due to the "European data protection law "and therefore Indians cannot demand data with help of the data protection commissioner, because such an entity simply does not exist in India.

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