Twitter OKs most government requests for user account info

Twitter released this week its first Twitter Transparency Report, a record showing how many times governments worldwide have requested user account information from the social media channel. 

The U.S. government logged the most requests – mostly in connection with criminal investigations – with 679 requests filed between January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012, according to the report.

The government of Japan came in second with 98 requests, followed by Australia, Brazil and the U.K. with less than 11 request each. The report also showed that Twitter did not comply with any government request to take down information from the site.


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Twitter said it notifies affected users of requests for their account information unless it is prohibited by law. In the case of the U.S., it produced some or all of the information requested about two-thirds of the time.

That may yet include personal information about Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris, who was charged with disorderly conduct in a New York state criminal case last year, Ars Technica reported.

Twitter's terms of service say that users own their content. But this week a New York criminal court judge denied Twitter’s request to stop a court order that required the service to produce information on Harris’s account, the website reported.

Commenting on the court order, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Aden Fine said the court failed to address a key tenet of free speech: “do individuals give up their ability to go to court to protect (their privacy) when the use the Internet?”

People have the right to challenge government requests for information from third parties, Fine added.

"There’s no reason for the result to be different when Internet activities are at issue, regardless of whether individuals ‘own’ their Internet speech or whether the Internet companies ‘own’ it," he said.


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