Twitter says government requests for user information are rising

Twitter said Monday that requests from governments around the globe for information on its users jumped nearly 20% in the second half of 2012.

The company said it received 1,009 requests from July through December, up from 849 in the first half of the year.

"Over the course of 2012, we saw a steady increase in government requests (with a slight decline in copyright takedown notices). All signs suggest that these government inquiries will continue to climb into the foreseeable future," Twitter noted.

This is Twitter's second "transparency" report. It revamped the report to make it more like Google’s and timed the release to "Data Privacy Day."

"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 legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel wrote in a blog post. "It's our continued hope that providing greater insight into this information helps in at least two ways: first, to raise public awareness about these invasive requests; second, to enable policymakers to make more informed decisions. All of our actions are in the interest of an open and safe Internet."

Twitter said most of the requests — 815 — came from the United States. The company complied — at least in part — with 69% of those requests. Typically the requests involved user account information for criminal investigations or cases.

In the U.S., Twitter said 60% of the requests used subpoenas, while 19% used a search warrant and 11% a court order.

Twitter said it informs users about the requests except when barred from doing so by law.


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