Social networking has become a big source of collecting user information for the Indian government. After the US, Facebook gets the most request to share user data from India. The worrying bit about this news is that compared to 2015, the number of requests made by the Indian government in 2016 have increased.
In addition to that, India is also second on the list of countries asking for content to be blocked on Facebook. Germany tops this list. The data is for the period between January and June 2016.
Facebook has released multiple statements, talking about the need to share/disclose country-centric, user data.
This report is part of our ongoing effort to share more information about the requests we receive from governments in countries where our service is available.Facebook
However, the worrying bit about this report is the inclusion of all Facebook-owned products. This means WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are also part of this data request programme.
This report provides country-level information, consistent with applicable law, about government requests for data about people who use the Facebook family of products, including Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.Facebook
With regards to content blocked, Facebook stated that 2,034 requests to block content were made in 2016. Interestingly, these numbers are significantly lower than what was reported in 2015 (15,155 to be precise).
Here’s what Facebook has to say about the nature of content that is deemed worth blocking.
The majority of content restricted was alleged to violate local laws against anti-religious speech and hate speech.Facebook
One such example is here:
Request: We received a request from law enforcement in India to remove a photo that depicted a sketch of Prophet Mohammed. Result: We determined that the photo did not violate our Community Standards. We reviewed the content and made the photo unavailable in India, where any depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is prohibited. We also notified the content creator of this action.
According to latest numbers, Facebook has over 160 million active users in India, with WhatsApp also having a similar number of active users in the country.