In the first six months of this year, Twitter had more than 2,000 requests to access customer
details, including account information, from a number of different government organizations.
In fact, requests for customer data from the government jumped 50 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the previous six-month period, according to the latest transparency report released by Twitter. The microblogging service said it cooperated “in whole or in part,” with some of the requests.
The U.S. alone accounted for 1,257 separate requests for account access, targeting 1,918 individual customer accounts, over half the total number of requests Twitter received worldwide. The company said it complied with 72 percent of the requests for customer information, significantly higher than the 52 percent cooperation rate it reports worldwide.
Government Snooping Increasing Globally, Too
According to Twitter, global government surveillance requests have grown 250 percent since 2012. In its latest report, Twitter said Japan accounted for the second highest number of data requests, constituting 9 percent of the total number of requests. Twitter said it received requests to access customer accounts from 54 countries. In many cases, such as Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey and Venezuela, the company declined to provide any customer information requested by the government.
Brazil, Spain and Turkey more than doubled their previous volume of requested data, with Brazil submitting more than three times as many requests as last time, according to Twitter. “The continued rise may be attributed to Twitter’s ongoing international expansion,” the company said in the report. “But also appears to follow the industry trend.”
U.S. Still Leads the Pack
In the case of the United States, government requests include both federal and state governments. Twitter broke down the requests into four categories: subpoenas, court orders, search warrants, and “other.” The most common requests were subpoenas, which do not generally require a judge’s sign-off and usually seek basic subscriber information, such as the e-mail address associated with an account and IP logs.
The “other” category includes requests for account information from government agencies without valid legal justification. These types of requests constituted 11 percent of all information requests from the U.S. Twitter said it was only allowed to provide notice to users in six percent of the cases that their information had been accessed by the government.
The company has chafed at U.S. government restrictions on what it is allowed to disclose in its transparency reports. For example, the government does not allow Twitter to report the number of requests based on “national security.” It recently met with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to attempt to increase the level of disclosure it is allowed to provide.
Currently, The DOJ only allows Twitter to provide ballpark figures for the number of National Security Letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders, and then only after at least six months. Although the company said it was heartened by the latest version of the USA Freedom Act of 2014, it was “not able to make any progress at this meeting, and we were not satisfied with the restrictions set forth by the DOJ,” the company wrote in a post on its corporate blog. “We remain disappointed with the DOJ’s inaction.”
Posted: 2014-08-03 @ 12:41pm PT
I agree. You can not speak your thoughts any more. We are not a free country
Posted: 2014-08-03 @ 10:11am PT
It's frightening to hear about all these government requests for data, but certainly nowhere near as frightening as the terrorist attacks that many of these requests seek to thwart. Many attacks have been prevented when 'chatter' about them by the attackers was intercepted. I'd rather give up some privacy than see even one more terrorist attack.
Posted: 2014-08-02 @ 9:54am PT
I can't tell you what I think because the language that comes to my mind is NSFW. Up yours, NSA and USA... but now that the NSA will have this post, I'll be targeted.