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Facebook government data requests up by a quarter with a New York court ordering the seizure of 400 accounts

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By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

November 5, 2014 | 3 min read

Government requests for Facebook user account data have jumped by a quarter in the first six months of the year compared with the final half of 2013.

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Facebook data request were up by a quarter

The social network has claimed that requests from governments all over the world were up 24 per cent - totalling just under 35,000 queries.

During the same period, the amount of content restricted as a result of local laws increased about 19 per cent.

Restricted content could include pornographic or offensive material or even banned propaganda from groups such as Isis.

The firm is currently battling a New York court over a mass warrant for access to 400 accounts - the largest request ever posted to Facebook.

The site argued that the request “violates the privacy rights of the people on Facebook and ignores constitutional safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures”.

On Tuesday, the site was recoded to let users of the Onion Router (TOR) anonymity browser access their Facebook accounts, in a move which will open the site in countries where it is banned.

Chris Sonderby, the deputy general counsel of Facebook, said: “We continue to work with our industry and civil society partners to push governments for additional transparency and to reform surveillance practices necessary to rebuild people’s trust in the internet.

“While we recognise that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we believe all government data requests must be narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case in review, and subject to strict judicial oversight.”

The battle for privacy intensified on Tuesday after Robert Hannigan, the new head of British intelliegence agency GCHQ, complained that internet giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter have become the "command and control networks of choice" for terrorists and criminals.

Facebook GCHQ Tor

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