TwitterGovernment requests for user account information made to Twitter pale in comparison to the number made to Google, but nonetheless, the number is on the rise according to Twitter’s Transparency Report, released today. Twitter’s report said government requests are generally made in conjunction with some kind of criminal investigation; 815 requests came from the United States government and Twitter complied 69 percent of the time; 57 percent worldwide.

Overall, Twitter fielded 1,009 requests for user account information from governments during the second half of 2012, compared to 849 for the first six months of the year. The majority of requests that Twitter fields are either takedown or counter notices in regard to copyright infringements against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); 6,646 were made last year, more than 3,200 during the second half of the year.

The release of the report today coincides with Data Privacy Day. Twitter also rolled out a new site that will house the biannual report,

Jeremy Kessel, manager of legal policy at Twitter, wrote on the corporate blog that Twitter will continue to share granular information about these requests going forward.

“We believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact,” Kessel said. “To that end, it is vital for us to be transparent about government requests for user information and government requests to withhold content from the Internet; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression—and real privacy implications.”

While requests for information were up, removal requests from governments were relatively low, 48 for the year; 42 during Q3 and Q4. Removal requests, meanwhile, are generally made by governments to remove content that may be illegal; that could include defamatory statements or prohibited content, Twitter said.

Copyright infringement actions are at the heart of the Twitter Transparency Report. Of the 3,268 copyright takedown notices Twitter received through its Web form or other media, the content in question was removed in 53 percent of those reports. More than 7,200 user accounts were affected; 5,557 Tweets were withheld and 1,648 media files withheld. Twitter said in its report that each user was notified of the takedown request and action taken. They were also sent information on how to file counter notices; only five were filed.

“It’s our continued hope that providing greater insight into this information helps in at least two ways: first, to raise public awareness about these invasive requests; second, to enable policy makers to make more informed decisions” Twitter’s Kessel said. “All of our actions are in the interest of an open and safe Internet.”

Categories: Privacy

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