Twitter’s second transparency report reinforces what many already know: governments want online user data, and to yank select content from the Internet.
“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,” Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s manager of Legal Policy, wrote in a January 28 posting on the official Twitter Blog. “These growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression—and real privacy implications.”
Twitter’s first two transparency reports cover the entirety of 2012, so there’s not a deep historical record to mine for insight. Nonetheless, that year’s worth of data shows all types of government inquiry—information requests, removal requests, and copyright notices—either on the increase or holding relatively steady.
Governments requested user information from Twitter some 1,009 times in the second half of 2012, up slightly from 849 requests in the first half of that year. Content-removal requests spiked from 6 in the first half of 2012 to 42 in the second. Meanwhile, copyright notices declined a bit, from 3378 in the first half of 2012 to 3268 in the second.
The United States was responsible for 815 of those 1,009 requests in the second half of the year. Japan came in second with 62 requests, followed by Brazil with 34.