Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, reports the Associated Press. The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers. Microsoft and Google have done the same.
It’s hard to discern much from Facebook’s data, but it is clear that police and intelligence agencies have followed as users around the globe flocked to the world’s largest social network. Facebook and other technology companies have been criticized for helping the National Security Agency secretly collect data on customers. Federal law gives government the authority to demand data without specific warrants. Technology and government officials have said criminal investigations are far more common than national security matters as a justification for demanding information from companies.