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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Social Media

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Govt requests for Twitter users' data on the rise
Reuters
San Francisco, August 01, 2013
First Published: 11:22 IST(1/8/2013)
Last Updated: 13:11 IST(1/8/2013)
Expanded tweets shown on Twitter's Android app. Photo: AFP

Twitter is under increasing pressure from governments around the world to release user's private information, with requests rising 40% in the first six months of the year, the microblogging company said on Wednesday in its semi-annual transparency report.

India made 50% requests during the six-month period where some or all of the content was with held, according to the San Francisco-based company's report.

The United States made three-quarters of the 1,157 data requests during the six-month period. Governments usually want the emails or IP addresses tied to a Twitter account.

In one well-known case, a French court ordered Twitter in February to turn over information about an anonymous account that posted anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter, which had initially resisted by arguing that the data was stored beyond French jurisdiction in its California servers, ultimately complied in June.

Efforts to censor Twitter content have also risen sharply, the company said.

A picture taken on January 4, 2013 in Paris of a person presenting his smartphone next to a computer, both connected on the French governement official tweeter account. (AFP Photo)


"Over the last six months, we have gone from withholding content in two countries to withholding content (ranging from hate speech to defamation) in seven countries," said Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel.

Twitter was censored the most in Brazil, where courts issued orders on nine occasions to remove a total of 39 defamatory tweets.

The report did not include secret information requests within the United Sates authorized under the Patriot Act, a law enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks. US companies are prohibited from acknowledging the existence of data requests made under those statutes.

Transparency reports such as the one published semi-annually by Twitter have been a particularly contentious issue in Silicon Valley in the wake of a series of leaks in June by former security contractor Edward Snowden, who alleged that major service providers including Google Inc, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp systematically pass along huge troves of user data to the National Security Agency.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/8/Twitter.jpg

The companies, which have denied the scope of Snowden's allegations, have asked the US government for permission to reveal the precise number of national security requests they receive in order to publicly argue that their cooperation with the government has been relatively limited.

The negotiations between the companies, which include Twitter, remain ongoing, but firms including Microsoft and Facebook released in June some approximate figures of how many users have been affected by the data dragnet cast by US intelligence.

In the first half of the year, authorities in Japan, another large Twitter user base, made 87 requests while UK agencies filed 26. The majority of the requests come in the form of court-issued subpoenas, Twitter said.


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