Facebook shares UK user data for non-legal requests 80% of the time

Facebook shares UK user data for non-legal requests 80% of the time

Facebook data sharing is a large topic of debate and concern. By using the social network, users are contributing a vast amount of personal data and aren’t always aware of how this data may be used or shared by Facebook.

At the beginning of May, Facebook released figures that showed the number of times they agree to requests for users’ data from law enforcement agencies. When a legal request is made to access user data, the social network hands it over 90 percent of the time. The more surprising statistic shows that when a non-legal ‘emergency’ request is made, Facebook still hands over user data 80 percent of the time. 

An emergency request is defined as when “we have a good faith reason to believe that the matter involves imminent risk of serious physical injury.” Between July and December 2016, 997 approved ‘emergency’ requests were made.

During these user data requests, Facebook will hand over information such as name, registration date and length of service. They are also able to hand over account content and in-depth IP address logs if requested. This also applies to all Facebook owned entities so requests can be made to access Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger data. 

While Facebook state that they only hand over personal data in cases where they have scrutinised the request for legal sufficiency, concerns have been raised over users control of their own profile information. It is not possible to request that your data is not shared with law enforcement, despite the fact that they may not have a legal warrant to access it. 

Facebook's deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby said that: "We apply a rigorous approach to every government request we receive to protect the information of the people who use our services. We scrutinise each request for legal sufficiency, no matter which country is making the request, and challenge those that are deficient or overly broad. We do not provide governments with “back doors” or direct access to people’s information."

It’s not just personal data sharing that raises concerns to users of Facebook. Last year the social network published the 96 personal data points that are used to target ads to users. Many Facebook users aren’t aware of the detailed tracking of their activities that takes place. This tracking includes anything and everything from how many pets you have to whether or not you have balance on your credit card. While Facebook emphasises its dedication to user privacy, their access to what you do outside of the social network is unknown to a lot of people. Shortly after this information was released, Whatsapp announced their new terms and conditions which stated that personal data, including phone numbers, would be shared with Facebook for targeted adverts. 


More information about Facebook’s data policy can be read in this official Full Data Use Policy here