I have been looking at transparency report data again recently, a task that is long overdue. The big change is that more data is available on government and law enforcement requests than used to be the case, when Google were the only company producing reports.
The most interesting category is, for me, social media networks. Unfortunately, only four major networks produce data that is independent – Facebook (Including Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. (Google+ comes under Google and Skype under Microsoft) So, which network is receiving the most queries for data per user? Before running the numbers, I would have expected networks to receive requests proportional to their size but this is far from true – the graph below is adjusted to take into account the number of users each site has and is based on requests from July 2013 to June 2014.
This discrepancy may be because of the kind of requests law enforcement is issuing. Although Twitter is far more political than Facebook, most serious crime is not political or terrorist – it’s run-of-the-mill violence. The bulk of (Non-piracy-related) requests received by Internet and Telephony Service Providers relate to people who had been assaulted, and the police were attempting to find out who the victim has communicated with recently. Although quite nasty threats are far too common on Twitter, Facebook “friends” are the kind of people who will be close enough to actually carry out threats, so will likely be the first port of call for police.
For the usual analysis of data requests per-country, Facebook alongside Microsoft and Google, but dropped Twitter due to their small size.
Sadly, many of the smaller companies are only permitted to release very vague figures by the US government which makes them all but useless – it is not particularly helpful to know that a network received some requests in a six month period, but that it was less than 1,000 requests.
The charts below are based on the first half of 2014 and adjusted for population size, and countries with a population below 2,000,000 (Where a handful of requests can skew the results) have been excluded.
The UK is still an unenviable fourth in the league tables of most-snooped-on population, although we have dropped below Germany and France. (Malta and Luxembourg have been excluded this time as smaller countries, but did appear on the 2013 charts) The surprise first place, having not had a particularly bad data request rate in the past, is Singapore who have added