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The State of Israel ranks 12th worldwide in government surveillance based on the number of accounts specified in data request by local authorities and law enforcement agencies, according to a Government Surveillance Report issued by the Surfshark cybersecurity company.

In total, more than five million accounts were requested in 177 countries from 2013 to 2020, with a steady increase in the latest years, according to the report.

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The research showed that the US and EU authorities requested the most data.

Apple complied with the most user data requests (80 percent) compared to Microsoft, Facebook, and Google (from 69 percent to 72 percent).

The study analyzed user data requests received by Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft from local authorities in 177 countries from 2013 to 2020.

The requests (183 accounts per 100,000 people) were related to government surveillance and law enforcement when digital evidence was needed in legal processes.

The research showed that Israel ranks 12th in the world and first in Western Asia based on the online accounts requested by authorities (2013-2020), compared to Tunisia (86th) and Iran (121st).

Israel made 173 percent more requests than the global average (67/100K). The latest data also reveals that all countries combined requested more than five million accounts during an eight year period.

Government Surveillance is Growing
The number of accounts requested globally increased more than four times from 2013 to 2020, with 2020 seeing the most significant year-over-year increase of almost 40 percent, researchers found.

Israel showed the same trend, with a 707 percent (eight-fold) increase from 2013 to 2020, involving nearly 16,000 accounts during the eight year period.

Requested accounts grew by 46 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

“The massive growth of online crime in 2020 went hand-in-hand with the increase in data requests that Big Tech companies received,” says Agneska Sablovskaja, lead reasearcher at Surfshark.

“Globally, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a staggering year-over-year growth of accounts requested for government surveillance from 0.9M to 1.3M. This could be attributed to everything moving online, including crime.”

The US and Europe account for nearly two-thirds of all accounts of interest from 2013 to 2020. However, the US requested more than double the accounts per 100K people than all the EU countries combined.

Looking at the top 10, five countries are from the EU. The UK, Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan comprise the rest.

The overall disclosure rate in Israel is 72 percent, meaning that seven out of every ten account information requests are fulfilled.

To put this in perspective, over the eight years, companies disclosed data of around 11.4K accounts.

Facebook and Google had the highest percentage of disclosed accounts to the authorities in Israel.

How Information was Obtained
The Government Surveillance Report uses information from transparency reports published by four major tech companies – Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

The study identifies 177 different countries that have requested user data from these companies between 2013 and 2020.

As a data request can cover multiple accounts, the research looks into the number of accounts specified in these requests, examines their global distribution per population, and compares the number of partially or fully disclosed requests.

The collected data was aggregated and analyzed according to five major categories: user data requests received, partially or fully disclosed requests, percentages of disclosed requests, accounts specified within these requests, and requested accounts per 100K people in each country. Countries with populations of less than one million were excluded from the ranking for statistical accuracy.

To see the full report, click here.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.