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Government Surveillance

CDT Statement on Facebook’s New Transparency Reporting Effort

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has issued the following statement on Facebook’s publication today of its first Global Government Requests Report, which details the number of government requests for user data that the company receives from a variety of countries.

“We are happy to see Facebook issue its first global Government Requests Report and join the growing number of Internet companies that have recognized how important it is to be transparent about the scope of government demands for user data,” said CDT’s Free Expression Director Kevin Bankston. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and basic numbers about the scope of surveillance of Facebook users can serve as an important early warning system for detecting abuse or overuse of a government’s authority to demand user data.”

“It’s disappointing that Facebook is still prohibited by law from disclosing specific information about the number of foreign intelligence and national security-related data demands it receives from the U.S. government. We are thankful to Facebook for being one of the many Internet companies and civil liberties organizations that is pressing the government to allow basic transparency reporting about government requests for data in national security investigations,” Bankston continued, referring to a joint letter to the US government organized by CDT last month. “We would strongly prefer that Facebook report specific numbers about the different types of government requests that they receive, and we hope that the Obama Administration and Congress will work together to ensure that companies like Facebook can soon engage in meaningful transparency reporting about the full range of government surveillance of Internet users.”