In the first six months of 2022, the Indian government made the second-highest number of requests to Meta for user data , according to the tech giant’s transparency report for the first half of this year. Meta owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, among other products.
India made 55,497 requests from January to June – second only to the United States that made 69,363 requests for user data. The US and India were followed by Germany, Brazil, France and the UK. A total of 237,414 requests were received globally.
In India, 51,602 of the total requests were “legal process requests” and 3,895 were “emergency disclosure requests”. “Some data” was produced by Meta for 66.59 percent of the requests.
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As explained in of the report, Meta restricted access in India to 23 items reported by the Election Commission of India “relating to electoral complaints under the Indian Penal Code, Representation of the People Act, including spreading candidate misinformation and promoting sectarian violence. Nineteen of these items were “restricted only temporarily”.
Meta also restricted access to 597 items in response to “directions” from the ministry of electronics and information technology for allegedly violating section 69A of the Information Technology Act “including content against security of the state and public order”.
Six items were restricted in response to directions from the ministry of information and broadcasting for allegedly violating section 16 of the IT Rules 2021. Seventy-one items were restricted “due to other court orders”, 13 items for “IP infringement”, and two items “in response to private reports of defamation”.
The report said Meta complies with government requests for user information “only where we have good-faith belief that the law requires us to do so”. It said: “When we do comply, we only produce information that is narrowly tailored to that request. If we determine that a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back and will fight in court, if necessary.”
Meta has been under scrutiny for how it handles data and also how it seemingly favours those in power. Whistleblower Sophie Zhang told Newslaundry the social media company is reluctant to act against fake accounts in India, and she also offered to testify before India’s parliamentary standing committee on information. Watch her interviews and .