Surge in requests for Facebook data from the Irish State

The number requests quadrupled in the first six months of the year

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The gardaí are increasingly using Facebook to track criminals.

The number of State requests to Facebook for information quadrupled in the first six months of the year.

That is according to new figures released by the social media website.

They show that 89 requests were made to the company between January and June of 2016.

This compares to just 20 requests that were made for the same period the year before.

Just over 65% of the 2016 requests saw some data produced, while 117 Irish user accounts were preserved.

A preserved account is when Facebook is asked to keep account records in connection with official criminal investigations for 90 days, pending a receipt of a formal legal process.

In a statement, Facebook says: "We respond to valid requests relating to criminal cases.

"Each and every request we receive is checked for legal sufficiency and we reject or require greater specificity on requests that are overly broad or vague."

The vast majority of these requests relate to criminal cases, such as robberies or kidnappings.

While Facebook adds that, in many of these cases, the government in question is requesting basic subscriber information - such as name and length of service.

Requests may also ask for IP address logs or account content.