New Twitter Transparency Site Shows Rise In Government Data Requests

Blue bird, Twitter © ruforester Fotolia

There’s a decline in copyright notices, but a rise in government user information requests

Twitter has launched a website where it will publish information on government requests for information, removal requests and copyright notices, showing an increase in all bar the latter in the second half of 2012.

The site,, will house all past and future reports, including the first one released in mid-2012.

The latest one showed that in the second half of 2012, there were 1009 requests for information from global governments, an increase of 160 over the first half. A total of 25 came from the UK, but that was low compared to the US, which put in 815 requests. Japan was the second most data hungry government, with 62 requests.

Twitter transparency

“All signs suggest that these government inquiries will continue to climb into the foreseeable future,” Twitter wrote in its latest report.

Removal requests shot up from six in the first half of 2012, up to 42, many of which came from governments, over posts they considered to be illegal.

Copyright takedown notices hit 3268 in the second half of the year, 53 percent of which ended up in content being removed. In only two cases were appeals against those takedowns successful, and content was restored to Twitter.

A UK company, Web Sheriff, which works with clients to protect copyrighted material on the Internet and includes artists such as Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson amongst its clients, put in the most takedown requests.

In its blog, Twitter, announcing its new site on Data Privacy Day, or Data Protection Day as it is known in Europe, said it believed transparency would “have a positive global impact”.

“To that end, 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; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression – and real privacy implications,” the company wrote.

“It’s our continued hope that providing greater insight into this information helps in at least two ways: first, to raise public awareness about these invasive requests; second, to enable policy makers to make more informed decisions. All of our actions are in the interest of an open and safe Internet.”

Google released its transparency report last week. It also showed a rise in government requests for data. Meanwhile, other major Web 2.0 companies, such as Microsoft-owned Skype, are being asked to be more transparent over their interaction with governments, amidst fears the days of the truly open, free Internet are coming to a close.

Respect privacy? Try our privacy quiz!