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Government requests for Twitter account information up by 55%

Twitter removed 299,649 terrorism-related accounts between January and June this year.

tech Updated: Sep 20, 2017 17:07 IST
Twitter has released its 11th Transparency report.
Twitter has released its 11th Transparency report.(AAP Photo/Matt RourkeP)

The number of requests by the Indian government for account information on Twitter rose by 55%, according to the latest transparency report by the micro-blogging platform. Between January and June this year, the government made 261 requests for account information. It also asked about 102 accounts to be removed from the platform.

The micro-blogging platform, however, did not remove any account or withhold any tweet as requested by the government, police or court -- there were two requests by the courts in the January-June period -- in India.

“India had a 55 per cent increase in total information requests (261 requests in this reporting period vs. 168 in the previous reporting period) that affected 57 per cent more accounts,” Twitter said in the report that was released late on Tuesday.

According to Twitter, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) sent a blocking order under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

“The request sought the removal of content from 60 users. While we suspended 16 accounts for violating Twitter’s Terms of Service, we asked for additional information regarding the remaining accounts,” it said.

According to the micro-blogging website, “generally, we do not take action on political speech protected under the UN-recognised principles of free expression, consistent with Twitter values and our actions in other jurisdictions”.

Twitter defines the government’s information requests as requests issued by law enforcement and other government agencies.

The company also revealed that it removed 299,649 terrorism-related accounts in the same period -- a 20 per cent decline from the previous period.

“We have suspended a total of 935,897 accounts for the promotion of terrorism in the period of August 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017,” Twitter posted.

Globally, Twitter received six per cent more government information requests (emergency disclosure requests and non-emergency requests) that affected three per cent fewer accounts from January 1 through June 30 compared to the previous reporting period.

This included requests that originated from four new countries -- Nepal, Paraguay, Panama and Uruguay.

“Since the inception of Twitter’s Transparency Report in 2012, we have received government information requests from 83 different countries,” the company said.

The total number of requests originating from the US decreased by eight per cent and affected 18 per cent fewer accounts.

Although the total amount of requests from the US has decreased from 2016 to 2017, it remains the top requester, submitting 33 per cent of total government information requests.

“Consistent with the two previous reports, Japan holds its spot as the second most frequent requester, accounting for 21 per cent of total government information requests,” Twitter said.

In the reporting period, Twitter received five information requests for Vine data, affecting 54 Vine accounts and 25 information requests for Periscope account information, affecting 98 Periscope accounts.

For the cases in which Twitter disclosed some information, “we provided non-content information in 90 per cent of the cases and content information in 10 per cent of the cases”.

“We notify affected users of requests for their account information unless we’re prohibited or the request falls into one of the exceptions to our user notice policy (e.g., emergencies regarding imminent threat to life, child sexual exploitation, terrorism),” Twitter said.