Twitter sees record increase in gov't data requests

Meanwhile Persicope racked up almost 1,400 copyright takedowns in only three months

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 11, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3f6e

Ever since the NS leaks a few years ago, companies have been putting out transparency reports, showing just how much information the government is asking for. Instead of shaming the government into not seeking quite as much information on its citizens, the opposite has happened: requests have been going up at an alarming rate.

Twitter released its biannual transparency report on Tuesday, and there's some very interesting developments this time around. Starting in January of this year, and ending in June, Twitter received 4,363 requests for information from governments around the world. That is up 78% from the 2,871 it received in the last half of 2014.

That means non-public information requested by law enforcement due to a subpoena, court order, or other valid legal process. Information is also given out in response to a valid emergency request.

The number of requests over the last six months is a pretty big deal, because it translates into the "largest increase in requests and affected accounts between reporting periods since we began publishing the Transparency Report in 2012," the company said.

As always, when broken down by country, the United States made the majority of requests for account information, totally 2,436, or over half, 56%, of all requests received. That is up from 1,622 requests in the previous report.  In all, 80% of the requests made by the United States government were complied with.

It goes down sharply from there: Japan made 425 requests, for 10%, while Turkey had 412, for 9%, and the United Kingdom had 299, for 7% of all requests. There are also four new countries that have been added to the list: Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Poland, and Serbia, bringing the total to 62 countries.

In all, Twitter said it complied with 58% of the total number of requests, up from 52% in the previous six months. 

The other interesting stat to come out of this report has to do with Periscope, and the number of copyright notices that Twitter received due to the live-streaming app that it bought in March for $86 million.

In just three months, Periscope racked up just under 1,400 requests for copyrighted material to be taken down, including over 800 requests in June alone, up from 541 in May. Vine, by comparison, had 2,405 requests in six months, and its highest total was 501 in March.

In all, Twitter complied with Periscope data take down requests 864 times, or 71%, in all, and 79% of the requests made in June. It complied with a total of 68% of Vine take down requests.

The issue of copyright material has been a sticking point for live-streaming apps ever since Periscope, and its competitors like Meerkat, burst onto the scene earlier this year. During the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in May, both Meerkat and the Twitter-owned Periscope were both accused of not doing enough to remove unauthorized streams of the match. 

Now the Twitter transparency numbers show that the problem is real, and only getting worse. Also, there's not much that can really be done about it. Facebook has attempted to get around this problem by controlling the content, and giving access only to the rich and famous, rather than the masses, but that is not an option for Twitter.

(Image source: transparency.twitter.com)

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