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Govt User Information & Removal Requests Show Meteoric Rise: Twitter Transparency Report

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Twitter Transparency Report Dec 31

The social networking site Twitter has released its bi-annual update, the Transparency report which brings to light all instances of government requests for account information, content removal and copyright notices.

The report which pertains to the last half of 2014 (July 31 to December 31) brings to fore that government requests for information have gone up by a whopping 40 percent. Total number of such requests during the aforementioned period was 2,871, up from 2,058 during the first six months of 2014.

Information requests include government requests received by the site from governments across the world for account information, typically in connection with criminal investigations.

United States, with 1,622 information requests, led the pack when according to The Verge, this number does not include secret orders from the NSA and other US intelligence agencies. The site gave some information in 80percent of these cases.

Turkey which sent in 356 information requests was not obliged by the site owners, with not a single of their requests being complied with. The site also refused to comply with any of the 108 requests by the Russian government. The Japanese government also sent in 288 information requests and was obliged in 36percent of the cases with some information.

Removal requests by governments were up by 84 percent. 796 as compared to 433 during the period last covered by the report.

“Governments generally make removal requests for content that may be illegal in their respective jurisdictions. For example, we may receive a court order requiring the removal of defamatory statements, or law enforcement may ask us to remove prohibited content,” specifies the report.

Turkey filed 477 content removal requests during this period, of which 50percent were upheld by the site owners. That puts the number of content removal requests by this tiny speck of a nation five times more than the requests by any other country. The Turkish government has shown its animosity for the site on earlier occasions too when it went on to ban this site as well as the video sharing platform YouTube.

The DCMA related copyright removal notices also went up by 81percent, up from 9,199 during the period covered by the last report to 16,648 during the last six months.

Copyright notices include reports of alleged copyright infringement and counter notices received.

India Twitter Information & Removal Request Numbers

During this period, Twitter got 2,871 requests from the Indian government related to account information, 22 percent of which were complied. That is a huge increase over the 2,058 requests during the previous six month period covered by the Transparency report.

Information requests

A total of 376 court ordered removal requests were received by Twitter and 420 from various government agencies, police etc. Twitter withheld 13% of the content out of this, a total of 1982 tweets.

removal requests

Twitter did not withhold any tweets from India during the last six months of 2014. The site owners received only one court ordered removal request and 14 removal requests from the police and various other government agencies during this period. 7% of these requests were complied with.

Notably, the agency had got only 5 removal requests during the first six months of the year just ended and no court orders for the same. On both occasions, not a single tweet was withheld.

The number of information requests and removal requests by the Indian government has risen sharply during the second half of 2014. Incidentally, this happens to coincide with that taking over of the new government at the center.

It is surprising to see party which made the best use of social media for getting to a landslide verdict in the last general elections is now beginning to crack down on users of social sites like never before. All the same, it cannot be denied that terrorist organizations across the world are getting increasingly active on such sites and using them to mobilize public opinion and win over more followers.

Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, writes in a blog post, “Providing this level of transparency is not without its complications and sometimes means we get tough questions and criticism about our decisions.”

“However, this candid feedback helps us to be evermore thoughtful about our policies and decisions regarding content and compliance as we navigate complex, diverse legal regimes around the world,” she adds.

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