India leads Facebook's global list for content restriction

November 5, 2014
The 'Facebook' logo is reflected in a young Indian woman's sunglasses as she browses on a tablet in Bangalore on May 15, 2012. AFP Photo / Manjunath Kiran

Facebook restricted access to almost 5,000 pieces of content from India during the first six months of 2014 following requests by government agencies, a report by the social networking giant said.

The company on Tuesday released its third "Government Requests Report"—an aggregation of every appeal made by governments across the world for user data, individual accounts and content restrictions.

"We restricted access in India to a number of pieces of content reported primarily by and the India Computer Emergency Response Team under local laws prohibiting criticism of a religion or the state," said the India Facebook page for the Government Requests Report.

The world's biggest democracy is Facebook's second largest market after the US with over a 100 million users.

On a visit to India in October, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to help India's new prime minister Narendra Modi connect remote villages to the Internet.

In Facebook's report listing 83 countries, India topped the chart with as many as 4,960 registered requests to regulate content. Trailing behind were Turkey with 1,893 requests and Pakistan with 1,173.

India had the second highest number of to access user accounts with 5,958, behind the US which asked to track 23,667 accounts.

Even as India is known to have nurtured a tradition of free speech with a vibrant media industry, laws governing its cyber space have come under public scrutiny for their restrictive nature.

Two years ago police sparked outrage and fierce debate about India's Internet laws by arresting two young women over a Facebook post criticising the shutdown of India's financial hub Mumbai after the death of a local hardline politician.

Internet users have also fallen foul of laws against offending religious sensibilities in a multi-faith country with a history of sectarian blood-letting.

Chris Sonderby, Facebook's Deputy General Counsel, wrote in a blog post Tuesday that the latest numbers reported a 24 percent increase in government requests for data and content globally compared to the second half of last year.

"We scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests," Sonderby wrote.

He added that Facebook was working to "push governments for additional transparency and to reform surveillance practices necessary to rebuild people's trust in the Internet."

Explore further: Facebook founder aims to get India online

Related Stories

Facebook founder aims to get India online

October 9, 2014

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday his social media network wanted to help India's new prime minister connect remote villages in the country of over 1.2 billion to the Internet.

Yahoo reports 29,000 data requests

September 7, 2013

Yahoo received some 29,000 government requests for data on its users this year, with almost half coming from the United States, according to the company's global transparency report released Friday.

Facebook blocks rock band page at Pakistan govt request

June 6, 2014

Facebook has blocked the popular page of a liberal Pakistani rock band and others that criticise the Taliban at the request of the government, angering activists campaigning against censorship in the Islamic country.

Recommended for you

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

How tree diversity regulates invading forest pests

March 25, 2019

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation's forests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.