Recently, Facebook revealed through its newsroom that global government requests in the first half of 2016 for personal user information increased by 27% globally, from 46,710 to 59,229 requests. The total government requests for Facebook user data are set to surpass 100,000 by the end of 2016. The sheer amount of data requests demanded by authorities suggests that Facebook’s money transmission or P2P networks are not optimal for user privacy and security.
“Government requests for account data increased by 27% globally compared to the last half of 2015, increasing from 46,710 to 59,229 requests. The majority of data requests we received were for law enforcement in the United States, approximately 56%, contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user.”
Earlier this year, Cointelegraph reported Facebook’s acquisition of an e-money license in Europe, which officially granted the social media giant permission to launch a money transmission business throughout the EU.
Facebook already has a P2P payment network for the United States based consumers that allow users to send and receive payments with ease through the same messaging application embedded into the Web and mobile Facebook platforms. By connecting credit or debit cards or bank accounts, which allows users to send money simply from one account to another.
Conflict in regulatory compliance
A major issue arises when Facebook is requested to submit user data to law enforcement without notifying the user. Hundreds of thousands of users could have had their personal and financial data submitted to law enforcement in a compilation without their knowledge.
Most personal information of a user is already listed on their public profile page. However, financial information of users is an extremely valuable and important set of data, which must be dealt with extreme caution and proper security protocols for obvious reasons.
Financial information such as credit card details, expenditures and spending habits describe a person’s history, personality, characteristics and lifestyle in unprecedented details. Personal data such as emails, addresses and mobile phone numbers are limited to a certain range of information they can provide. On the other hand, financial data can become valuable to external users or third party, as they can be utilized to analyze and investigate a user.
Issue with financial data submission
It is difficult for Facebook to track and to evaluate law enforcement or other agencies’ operations and utilization of financial information of its users. Thus, Facebook can not possibly guarantee legitimate usage of user information and is limited to the explanation provided by the agency or law enforcement it complied with.
With an increasing number of cases reported throughout the past few years in regards to unlawful and inappropriate usage of information by law enforcement and police, users must be aware of their financial information and the fact that third party investigators could put surveillance on their data at all times.
Such issues will continue to arise in financial networks that are reliant on a central authority to control the network.