Cambodia Asks Facebook for User’s Data

The Cambodian government earlier this year requested that Facebook turn over a user’s data as part of an official investigation, but the U.S.-based social networking giant declined to comply with the request, according to a report.

The Global Government Requests Report, released by Facebook on Tuesday, says Cambodia made one request for a user’s data between January and June.

The report does not state what body or government official made the request or the name of the user whose information was requested.

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, said in an online post attached to the report that the social network ensures the privacy of its users and, at times, fights the government requests.

“We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the

law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name,” he said.

Cambodia was one of 74 countries to request user data, and one of seven to make only a single request for one user, according to the report. Requests for the data of at least 38,000 users were made worldwide.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday he was unaware of the request and added that Cambodia pro- motes free speech.

“Even though the big countries like the U.S. and U.K. spend so much money to control their own citizens, we promote freedom of expression in the digital era,” he said.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said Wednesday she was pleased that Facebook had declined Cambodia’s request.

“We urge Facebook to take into account the Cambodian government’s heavy censorship of traditional media, which has greatly increased the importance of social media, in considering any future government requests,” she said in an email.

Charlene Chian, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific spokeswoman, said she could not elaborate on why Facebook ignored Cambodia’s data request. “Unfortunately we don’t have any more information to share,” she said.

The Facebook pages of political party candidates from the opposition CNRP and ruling CPP saw a significant rise in followers ahead of the national election last month, and some candidates have claimed they were defamed on the social network.

The CNRP has also used Facebook as a tool to engage its young supporters prior to—and following—the election, particularly to organize rallies.

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