New Delhi: Already under opposition fire over the so-called ‘WhatsApp Snoopgate‘ the Narendra Modi government could be in for more trouble, as, in a fresh development, Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp, has mentioned in its latest transparency report that there has been a sharp spike in ’emergency requests’ for user information by the Indian government and law enforcement agencies.
According to the report, there were 22,684 such requests made by the government in the first half of 2019, making India the second-largest country to request for information on its own citizens, after the US. The requests, Facebook said, were made for 33,324 users and accounts out of which it gave information on 54% requests.
These are the highest numbers for India for ’emergency requests,’ up from just 3,245 in 2013 during the same period.
According to the report, out of 22,684 requests, 7% were emergency-related, which means that law enforcement agencies may submit requests without a legal process, a rise of 4% and 2% from the previous two years respectively. For such a scenario, Facebook says it discloses information ‘voluntarily’ if it has a good reason to believe that the matter might lead to imminent physical injury or death.
Overall, India jumped from sixth to third in terms of most requests for content takedowns, with the figure being 1,250 for the first half of 2019. Only Pakistan and Mexico are ahead of India in requesting for content takedowns.
However, India continues to lead the list for internet disruptions with 40, with most disruptions being recorded in Jammu and Kashmir where mobile internet was suspended and continues to stay suspended to prevent any law and order incident in the wake of the abrogation of its special status, announced on August 5.
In 2018, Facebook had a user base of 281 million in India, more than twice from that in 2015 (135.6 million).