This article was published on July 31, 2013

US government is filing 10 times the number of requests for Twitter user info than any other country

US government is filing 10 times the number of requests for Twitter user info than any other country

An updated transparency report put out by Twitter every six months has revealed today that the US government made some 902 requests for users’ information from the social network since January this year.

Of those 900-odd requests, which spanned 1,319 individual accounts, 67 percent of them were at least partially fulfilled by Twitter. Around 56 percent of those requests came in the form of subpoenas (which do not require a judge’s sign-off and request things like the email address associated with an account and IP logs), 23 percent from search warrants and around 11 percent as a result of court orders (which do require a judge’s signature).

In order to provide more information than in previous reports, Twitter has also included two new categories of request: Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty requests (MLAT) and pen register / trap and trace (PRTT) orders. Of those 900 requests, just one percent were MLAT originating, and around 5 percent were PRTT orders. It also explained what the measures meant:

“Originally developed to obtain phone numbers from telecommunications providers, a PRTT order (in the context of Twitter) provides law enforcement with legal authority to obtain IP address records from the account identified in the order, generally for 60 days.

MLAT requests may authorize district courts within the United States to order Twitter to produce information for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal, including criminal investigations.”

While the US was the most inquisitive country, it was by no means the only government requesting the data of Twitter users.

The next highest was Japan, with just 87 requests covering 103 accounts — only 16 percent of which were at least partially fulfilled. Third in the rankings was the UK with 26 requests spanning 29 accounts, with a 15 percent fulfillment rate.

In total, 1157 requests were made concerning 1697 accounts globally, of which in 55 percent of cases Twitter handed over at least some of the data requested. US requests made up a not inconsiderable 78 percent of all requests received.

While the US is clearly filing a far higher number than any other country, it’s actually a reduction from the 1,009 information requests it made in the previous six months.

Removal requests and copyright notices

As well as reporting the number of account holder info requests, Twitter also reported the number of content removal requests and copyright notices it received from each country.

In total, just 104 accounts or users were the subject of content removal requests and only 38 percent of those requests resulted in Twitter taking action.

In contrast, there were considerably more (5,753 in six months, to be precise) DCMA takedown notices as the result of alleged copyright infringement. Of those 5,753 requests, material was removed in 61 percent of cases, resulting in the removal of some 18,413 tweets.

Featured Image Credit – Scott Beale / Laughing Squid