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US government leads in Twitter data requests

03 Jul 2012
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The US government is by far the most frequent inquirer into user account activity on Twitter it has emerged.

The company said in its bi-annual transparency report that between January and June, US officials asked the company to provide data on user accounts and activity 679 times.

Additionally, the company said that in total some 948 user accounts were included in the requests and 75 per cent of the requests resulted in some or all of the information being handed over to officials.

By contrast, Twitter said that the UK government requested user information just 11 times, with only 18 per cent of the requests resulted in the disclosure of information - which equates to just two cases of user information being handed over.

Additionally, Twitter noted that it received just one takedown request from UK law enforcement for content which was not granted.

"Governments generally make removal requests for content that may be illegal in their respective jurisdictions," the company said in the report.

"For example, a government agency may obtain a court order requiring the removal of defamatory statements or law enforcement may request us to remove prohibited content."

Twitter said it reserves the right to refuse government requests, particularly in cases where the requests are overly broad in nature or officials fail to provide a specific user account name.

Twitter also cited copyright notices as a top cause for the removal of content. The company said that so far this year it has removed 5,275 tweets due to some 3,378 copyright violation requests. Overall, the company said that just 38 per cent of the requests it received were granted.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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