The Belgian government made a record number of requests for information from internet companies like Facebook and Twitter in 2019, De Tijd reports.
The requests came from the federal police among others, looking for information on the identity of people who had posted illegal material such as hate speech and messages of radicalisation. Other requests were concerned with having such material removed.
Figures for the first half of the year show 1,624 requests being filed, compared to 977 in the same period five years earlier. The requests were submitted to Facebook (which includes Instagram), Twitter, Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Facebook, with the highest number of active users, received the highest number of requests, and complied to some degree with 83% of them. Apple replied positively to the same proportion, but the information supplied does not always correspond exactly to what was requested.
Twitter complied with the smallest proportion of requests – only 70% – but then the site only received 23 requests in the first place. Microsoft and Google scored highest with 90% and 86% respectively.
Separate from requests for information, the federal police also submitted 1,750 demands for illegal material to be withdrawn from the web. Subjects ranged from terrorism and radicalism to propaganda and hate messages as well as violent images. The online services have their own moderation providers, usually private subcontractors, who apply in-house rules. In addition to that, requests from the Belgian federal police met with a positive response in 72% of cases.