Twitter sees record increase in requests for account information

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The number of times that governments asked Twitter to provide account information in the first half of 2015 was more than 50 percent greater than in the previous six months, the company said on Tuesday.

Twitter revealed the data as part of its twice-yearly transparency report, which also covers requests made by private copyright holders.

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From Jan. 1 through June 30, the company received 4,363 government requests worldwide for account information related to 12,711 accounts on Twitter, Periscope or Vine. Twitter provided at least some information in response to 58 percent of the requests.

That represented a roughly 52 percent increase from the number of requests received in the second half of 2014, during which the company received 2,871. Twitter executive Jeremy Kessel called it the “largest increase between reporting periods we have ever seen" on Tuesday.

The rate at which the company provided some account information also increased from 52 percent between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014 — rising by 6 percentage points.

Requests for account information are usually made as part of criminal investigations, the company said.

The company said that in the first six months of 2015, the company received 442 court orders requesting it remove certain content and another 561 from government agencies globally. That marks a 26 percent increase from the previous six-month period. Most of the requests came from authorities in Turkey and Russia.

For the first time, the company is providing users with data on the number of trademark violation allegations made about content on Twitter and Vine. The company received 12,911 trademark notices for Twitter and Vine and removed material in 7 percent of cases.

For the first half of 2015, the company received 14,694 copyright takedown requests and counter notices on Twitter and an additional 3,766 on Periscope and Vine. Material was removed from Twitter 67 percent of the time.

Users can also now see how different email providers encrypt — or don’t encrypt — messages from Twitter.

Several major tech companies have made the decision in recent years to publish data related to the requests they receive for user information. The numbers have particular salience in light of revelations about the wide scope of government surveillance.