US government leads requests for Twitter user data

Following in Google’s foosteps, Twitter has for the first time produced a Transparency Report, showing that the US government requested more user information than any other in the first half of this year.

And it’s a lot more. The vast majority of governments made fewer than ten requests, and the UK and Canada 11 each. Japan made 98 – but the US remained way ahead of the rest with an astonishing 679.

While Twitter refrains from commenting directly on this disparity, it says the timing of the report is no coincidence.

“Wednesday marks Independence Day here in the United States,” points out Jeremy Kessel, the company’s manager of legal policy. “Beyond the fireworks and barbecue, July 4th serves as an important reminder of the need to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves.”

It says it produced some or all of the information requested in 63 percent of cases over all – 75 percent in the case of the US government.

“We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011,” says Kessel.

Twitter says it also had requests from France, Greece, Pakistan, Turkey and the UK to remove content from the site – but didn’t comply with any of them.

But, surprise, surprise, it was copyright holders that made the most takedown requests – a total of 3,378 over the six-month period. Twitter says it complied with 38 percent of these requests, removing a total of 5,275 tweets.

The report’s available here; Twitter says it plans to continue publishing them twice a year.