International

Twitter says government data queries rising

WASHINGTON: Twitter said Monday it saw a 40 percent jump in government request for user data in late 2014, with sharp rises coming from both Turkey and Russia.

The “transparency report” released by the messaging platform showed the United States remained the largest source of data queries with 1,622 over the last six months of the year, but that notable increases came from Turkey and Russia.

The total number of requests globally was 2,871, up from 2,058 in the first six months of the year.

Turkey — which blocked Twitter and other social media last year for leaking data about government corruption — vaulted to the number two spot with 356 requests, the Twitter report said.

“Requests from Turkey increased over 150 percent… We did not provide information in response to any of those requests,” Twitter senior manager Jeremy Kessel said in a blog post.

In Russia, where authorities demanded last year that Twitter block “extremist” accounts, Kessel said “we went from having never received a request to receiving more than 100 requests for account information during this reporting period.” Twitter did not provide any data to the Russian requests.

Twitter said the jump followed the passing of a “blogger’s law” in Russia that requires those with more than 3,000 daily readers to register and adhere to stricter rules or face a large fine.

In the United States, the number of requests increased by 29 percent during the period, and Twitter complied in 80 percent of those cases.

Japan was third with 288 requests, and Twitter complied in 36 percent of those cases.

Twitter said Turkey made the largest number of requests to take down content — 328 of the global total of 376.

“We received 328 court orders and 149 requests from Turkish government agencies directing Twitter to remove content ranging from violations of personal rights to defamation of private citizens and/or government officials,” the report said.

“We filed legal objections with Turkish courts in response to more than 70 percent of Turkish orders received.”

Twitter was required by the Turkish courts to remove at least some material in 50 percent of the cases. Globally, it took down content in 13 percent of cases.

Most major US tech firms have published transparency reports in the past two years, with more joining following revelations from leaked documents about government surveillance.

But the reports may only reveal limited data, with a delay, about requests from secret US national security court. – AFP

 

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