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Twitter transparency report finds government requests for data on the rise

28 Jan 2013

Twitter's transparency report has found that governmental requests for data spiralled over the course of 2012.

Governments from around the world made 1,858 requests for Twitter data during the second quarter of 2012. That is compared to the first quarter when world governments only made 849 requests for user data. Twitter's statistics come from its biannual transparency report.

"We believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact," wrote Twitter's manager of legal policy Jeremy Kessel in a blog post.

"To that end, it is vital for us (and other Internet services) 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."

Twitter has released its second transparency report which covers the requests for user data the company received from July to December 2012. The report comes following the recent release of Google's transparency report earlier this month.

According to Twitter's report, over 81 percent of user data requests came from the US, where 815 requests for data were made. The number represented a rise in overall requests for the US. Officials in the country only made 679 requests for Twitter user data in the first half of 2012.

Over 60 percent of US requests came following a subpoena order. Another 19 percent came following a US court order. Twitter said it at least partially complied with those requests 69 percent of the time.

Japan was reported to be the second biggest requester with 62 requests for Twitter user data. Japan was one of the few countries to have made more requests for user data in the first half of 2012. The country made 98 requests for data during the first half of last year.

The UK also came in the top five for most requests with 25. In comparison, UK officials only made 11 requests for data during the first half of 2012.

Much has been made about corporate transparency reports in recent months. A letter from privacy advocates was recently sent to Skype asking for the firm to release its own transparency report.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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