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Twitter tight-lipped over claims it handed user details to police

08 Aug 2012

Twitter has reportedly capitulated to a police request that the company hand over data on a user accused of making death threats.

The New York Post reported that members of the city's police department have been granted access to data on a user who threatened to launch a shooting rampage at a Broadway theatre. The microblogging service is believed to have initially denied the police request.

According to the report, the user had threatened to undertake a shooting spree similar to the attack in an Aurora, Colorado theatre which resulted in the deaths of 12 people.

Twitter declined to comment on the matter, referring V3 to a copy of the company's policy on data disclosure. The policy states that the company will comply will only hand over private data about user activity "as lawfully required by appropriate legal process such as a subpoena, court order, or other valid legal process."

According to Twitter's most recent transparency report, authorities in the US are by far the most common applicants for data disclosures.

The company said that over the first half of the year, some 679 requests had been made for user information. Of those requests, 75 per cent were granted by Twitter.

By contrast, authorities in the UK asked for personal information on users just 11 times, and only two of those requests were granted by Twitter.

In addition to requiring that authorities present the appropriate legal documents before viewing data, Twitter said that it notifies users of data requests unless prohibited by law. The company noted that it also allows users to challenge requests after they have been received.

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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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