Twitter has reported a massive spike in government requests for users’ information and requests to remove tweets from its service.
According to the microblogging company’s latest transparency report, from July to December 2014 government requests for specific users’ data rose by 40% on the previous six months to about 2,871.
The requests came from more than 50 countries. Twitter said it was getting more requests from countries around the world but three countries stood out: Russia, Turkey and the US.
In the same period Twitter received an 84% increase in government and government-sanctioned demands to remove content from its service. Turkey asked for the most removals, making 477 requests. Twitter has repeatedly clashed with the Turkish government and was briefly banned in the country last year, after people used the service to implicate the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and others in corruption allegations ahead of local elections.
The US made 1,622 requests for users’ information – Twitter gave some information in 80% of cases. The company is suing the US government to loosen restrictions over what it can say publicly about national security-related requests for user data.
Twitter received 356 requests for information in Turkey and complied with none of them. In Russia there were 108 requests – up from zero in the last report. Again, Twitter did not comply.
“Providing this level of transparency is not without its complications and sometimes means we get tough questions and criticism about our decisions,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blogpost.
“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.”
This article was written by Dominic Rushe in New York, for theguardian.com on Monday 9th February 2015 18.12 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010