eDiscovery Daily Blog

Twitter Remains Transparent Regarding Government Requests – Social Tech eDiscovery

Yesterday, we took an updated look at Twitter to see how it handles private information and law enforcement requests (such as subpoenas) and what has changed since our last look about two years ago.  Today, we will take a look at Twitter’s latest Transparency Report to show government requests for data over the last six months of 2013.

Transparency reports are typically issued by companies to disclose numerous statistics related to requests for user data, records, and website content. These reports indicate the frequency and authority that governments request data or records over the given period. Due to the creation of these reports, the public may be informed of the private information governments gain access to via search warrants, court subpoenas and other methods.  Many other major communication platforms provide Transparency Reports as well, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Microsoft.

Twitter began publishing Transparency Reports in 2012 (we took a look at their first one here) and has continued doing so every six months or so.  Twitter’s current format for their Transparency Report is divided into three categories: trends in government requests for account information, government requests for content removal, and copyright notices and is available for every reporting period since Twitter began publishing the report. The Transparency Report also offers insight as to whether or not Twitter acts upon the requests sent to the company.

The first category is Information Requests. This includes worldwide government requests for account information typically connected to criminal investigations. For the six month period from July 1 to December 31, 2013, Twitter had 1,410 information requests. Due partly to the influence of Twitter’s growing global expansion, this number is a 22% increase from the prior period; however, the United States still accounted for 59% of the total requests.

In the Removal Requests section, Twitter includes government requests and other complaints of illegal content from authorized reporters to remove or withhold its content. In the first half of 2013, there were a total of 60 requests. However, in the second half of 2013 this number was over five times greater377 requests!  Now that’s an upsurge!  309 of those requests came from one country – France.  The removal requests number does not include emergency disclosure report numbers, as this information cannot be disclosed to the general public at this time.

As for copyright notices, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices rose from 5,753 in the prior period to 6,680 – a 16 percent increase.  To find more information about Twitter’s Transparency Reports, you can review them online by clicking here.

Next week, we will take a look at how another platform – LinkedIn – handles privacy, law enforcement requests and transparency.

So, what do you think?  Do you feel that Twitter provides enough information in their report?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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