Twitter released its first-ever transparency report on Monday, which provides statistics on the number of times governments and individuals requested data on Twitter users or made takedown requests under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act during the first half of 2012. The report was inspired by the transparency reports Google has been issuing for a couple years and shows, not surprisingly, that the U.S. government is the most active in the world when it comes to demanding data on Twitter’s users.
In the blog post sharing the report’s findings, Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s legal policy manager, wrote that Twitter has received more government requests in the first half of this year than during the entirety of 2011. With 679 requests targeting 948 accounts — apparently more than the rest of the world combined — the U.S. government led the charge in terms of volume. U.S. officials also top the list with a 75 percent success rate followed by runner-up the Netherlands at 50 percent while many countries are at zero percent.
It’s easy to point the finger at Twitter for turning over so much data to law enforcement but, by and large, it’s just doing what’s required under U.S. laws that were written decades before the web as we know it came into existence. Google also has seen a surge in user-data requests from the U.S. government, totaling 6,321 requests on 12,243 accounts (with a 93 percent hit rate) from July 2011 through December 2011. Google’s statistics for the first half of 2012 should be available soon.
Twitter claims it notifies users of all requests to access their information, and does occasionally deny requests that are too broad or when users challenge the requests in court.
Takedown requests under the DMCA are also much less of an issue for Twitter than for Google. Whereas Twitter received 3,378 requests during the first half of 2012, Google’s real-time trackers counts more than 2 million in the past month.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock user SoulCurry.