Twitter complied with 75 percent of US requests for user info

Twitter received 679 requests for user information from the U.S. government in the last year, according to a report released by the company Monday.

The requests from the United States exceeded that of any other country, and Twitter released “some or all” of the information asked for in 75 percent of these requests, the company said. Twitter added that the requests for user information are typically connected with criminal investigations or cases.

{mosads}The report represents the first time Twitter has made such figures public. The report included data from Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, and was published
just hours after a New York criminal court judge ruled that the company must hand over three months worth of tweets for an Occupy Wall Street protester.

Twitter did not publish figures for user information requests it received from Egypt, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that are known to limit citizens’ use of the site. Twitter was a key communication tool used by protesters during the Arab Spring.

In releasing the report, the San Francisco-based company said it was inspired by Google’s efforts to publish this type of data in its own “Transparency Report.”

Twitter disclosed percentages for the government requests it has complied with and the number of notices it has received from copyright holders to take down allegedly infringing content.

The company reported that it has received more government requests for user information in the first half of 2012 than it did all of last year.

“These policies help inform people, increase awareness and hold all involved parties—including ourselves—more accountable,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, manager of legal policy at Twitter, in a company blog post.

Kessel also noted that the data guides the company “when making difficult decisions” and developing its policies, such as notifying users when their account information is being requested.

The report revealed that Twitter did not remove or withhold content included in requests from judicial or government entities in France, Greece, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Unlike Google, Twitter’s report did not disclose the names of organizations or companies that submitted copyright take-down notices. Instead, the company broke down per month the number of take-down notices it received, the percentage of notices it “fully or partially complied with” and the number of tweets removed, among other information.

Additionally, Kessel announced in the blog post that Twitter has partnered with the website Herdict, which is sponsored by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and uses crowdsourcing to track Internet filtering and other types of Web blocking.


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