Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Singapore Number One Spy in Asia According to Facebook


We all expect a certain level of privacy, but many of us know deep down in our hearts that nothing’s a secret on the Internet. So it should not come as too much of a surprise that companies like Facebook have cooperated with numerous governments to release various information. There’s of course the due legal process involved. However, we’re all still rather curious about the information disclosures that have been going on.

It all started because of Edward Snowden and the revelation of the PRISM program. Subsequently, Facebook admitted that over a 6-month period in 2012, they received many thousands of government requests for data. The story was about the same for Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants.

Facebook yesterday published their first ever Global Government Request Report, covering data for the first 6 months of 2013 ending 30 June. 71 countries were listed as having requested data.

I decided to look at the data in terms of the percentage of accounts of which data was requested, out of the population of the respective countries. The U.S. may have wanted to look at lots of users (some 20K), but they are a big country. Percentage of accounts out of the country population might be a more interesting figure.

Which is the most inquisitive government? The first place goes to Malta. They made 89 requests for 97 accounts, out of the country’s population of 416055 (according to Wikipedia). That’s 2.33%. It’s significantly more than the 2nd place country, the United States, which saw 0.65% of its population having had their accounts revealed to their government. (Consider also that the Internet penetration in Malta might be lower, and hence the percentage of their population actually on Facebook might be lesser, that 97 accounts requested in Malta could be pretty substantial.)

Where does Singapore stand?

Number one in Asia.

We hold the record for the most inquisitive government in Asia. 117 accounts were requested, out of a population of 5310000 (again according to Wikipedia). That’s 0.22% of our population having been spied on.

The next runner up in Asia is Taiwan, at 0.14%, and third place goes to Malaysia at 0.07%.

China’s not in the list. Oh, yes, China bans Facebook.

If you’re at all concerned, well, just don’t forget nothing’s secret if you’re going to share anything at all on the Internet.

Country Accounts Requested Population Size %
Malta 97 416055 2.33%
United States 20500 316537000 0.65%
Italy 2306 59704082 0.39%
United Kingdom 2337 63705000 0.37%
New Zealand 119 4473460 0.27%
Australia 601 23162342 0.26%
Germany 2068 80493000 0.26%
France 1598 65707000 0.24%
Singapore 117 5310000 0.22%
Chile 340 16634603 0.20%

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