Twitter reports large number of government data requests

Twitter reports large number of government data requests

Social networking site Twitter revealed in its regular transparency report that it had received more than 2,800 data requests from various world governments since its previous report in July of 2014.

The overall number of requests was a 40 percent increase from the previous reporting period. The requests concerned a total of approximately 7,100 accounts.

Of these requests, approximately 1,600 requests were made by the United States government, with Twitter complying with 80 percent of that government’s requests. In addition, the government of Turkey made 356 such requests during that time period, of which none were granted. The Turkish government had previously debated banning access to Twitter nationwide.

Several other technology-related companies, such as Google and Facebook, have begun releasing such reports in an effort to ensure that their consumers are fully informed regarding what data is shared with governments. Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager of legal policy, made a post on Twitter’s official blog discussing the importance of the trend.

“Providing this insight is simply the right thing to do, especially in an age of increasing concerns about government surveillance,” said Kessel.

Notably, the government of Russia, which had made no requests whatsoever prior to July, requested user data more than 100 times during the reporting period. In contrast, Saudi Arabia’s government decreased its request volume, making just 31 data requests between July and December 2014, compared to 189 data requests between January and June.

Kessel says in his blog post that Russia had submitted several additional requests to remove content such as protest or criticism of their government.

“We denied several requests to silence popular critics of the Russian government and other demands to limit speech about non-violent demonstration in Ukraine,” said Kessel.

Russia enacted several restrictions on social media use in August, including a requirement for all blogs with at least 3,000 daily readers to register with a media regulator as well as mandating that all social networks retain at least six months worth of data on all users.

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