Twitter released its third ever transparency report on Wednesday, covering the first six months of 2013, and one thing has not changed: the U.S. is still, by far, the leader in government requests for data.
In fact, the number of requests has continued to go up every time a new report comes out!
In the first report, the U.S. had 679 total requests, out of a total of 849 for the entire world. In the second report it was 815 requests for information nearly 81% of the 1,009 total requests.
This time around the U.S. asked for a startling 902 pieces of information from Twitter, 78% of the 1,157 pieces of information that were requested in total. If you want that put into even starker perspective: the country with the second most requests was Japan. With 87. Compared to 902. After that, the third highest is the United Kingdom, with 26 requests.
Would it make you feel a little better to know that Twitter was not just handing over all the information that was asked of it? Overall, 55% of worldwide requests for access were granted, and 67% of the requests from the U.S. government, but that leaves and entire 23% of information that the government simply can't get their hands on.
So what criteria does Twitter use to not give up this type of info? There are three scenarios that the company outlined: they will reject it outright if a request fails to identify a Twitter account. Twitter also, in some cases, will take broader requests and narrow them down. And, in other cases, they will actually notify the user in question so that they themselves can challenge the request.
Of course, all of that may be for naught if the XKeyScore thing turns out to be true. If so, then it really doesn't matter much, does it? I mean, then the government can basically see everything you are doing anyway.
Speaking of everything that has gone on in the last six months in terms of Internet transparency, with the whole Edward Snowden/PRISM scandal, Twitter did address those issues as well.
"A lot has happened in the data privacy space since the release of our last #transparency report back in January. As we’ve noted, we believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact," the company wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
"An important conversation has begun about the extent to which companies should be allowed to publish information regarding national security requests. We have joined forces with industry peers and civil liberty groups to insist that the United States government allow for increased transparency into these secret orders."
To that end, the company said, they wish they could release the amount of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests that they received.
"We believe it’s important to be able to publish numbers of national security requests – including FISA disclosures – separately from non-secret requests. Unfortunately, we are still not able to include such metrics."
Multiple other Web giants, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft have expressed similar wishes. Yahoo recently won a court battle against the Department of Justice to unseal classified documents that will, apparently, show that Yahoo fought back against revealing user data.
(Image source: http://zeroturnaround.com)