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Costa Rica gov’t sought information on 87 Tico Facebook users in first half of 2013

Following the publication of Facebook’s first transparency report on government data requests, Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) revealed new details Thursday about the kinds of requests they made to the social network.

The number is significantly larger than the original four requests on six users listed on the Global Government Request Report, released Tuesday. The report details government requests for data during the first six months of 2013, ending on June 30.

OIJ made 79 requests for information on 87 Ticos, according to a statement released Thursday morning.

OIJ claimed that data requests aimed to preserve information from criminal suspects’ Facebook pages and were passed on to the Prosecutor’s Office for approval and final request.

The Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for requesting international assistance in criminal investigations.

Requests included:

  • 18 for electronic communication violations
  • 16 for soliciting sex from a minor
  • 12 for information fraud
  • 5 for threats
  • 5 for identity theft

The agency did not detail the remaining 23 cases.

Facebook did not honor any of the law enforcement agency’s requests, according to OIJ and the social network’s report. 

President Laura Chinchilla said that she was unaware of any data requests after Facebook published the report Tuesday, according to the daily La Nación. Costa Rica made the largest number of data requests in Central America. 

Chinchilla tweeted that her administration was asking for clarification from Facebook about the four requests listed, “In the name of transparency we asked Facebook to explain which institutions solicited user information. We’ll soon know more.”

Marisel Rodríguez Solís, press representative for OIJ, told The Tico Times that the discrepancy was due to different methods of requesting information from the social network.

While the information has sparked discussion here about the role of law enforcement and privacy on social network, Costa Rica requested relatively few data requests. The United States, meanwhile, requested information on more than 20,000 users during the first six months of the year, more than any other country listed. 

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