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Twitter gets transparent; releases list of government data requests

U.S. easily the leader in requesting information on Twitter users

Twitter has received more government requests for user information in the first six months of this year than it did in all of 2011, the company reported this week.

Taking a page from Google, the micro-blogging site released on Monday its first Twitter Transparency Report listing government requests for user information and to withhold content, and copyright holders DMCA takedown notices.

Google has had its own Transparency Report for the past several years and yesterday tweeted "props" to Twitter for releasing a similar report.

"Wednesday marks Independence Day here in the United States," wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter's manager of legal policy. "Beyond the fireworks and barbecue, July 4th serves as an important reminder of the need to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves."

So here's a look at some of the numbers for the more than 20 countries that Twitter is listing:

  • The United States, by far, had the most requests -- 679 seeking user information from 948 users or accounts. Twitter said it fully or partially complied with 75% of requests from the U.S. -- more than from any other country.
  • With 98 requests, Japan was second highest. The Japanese government sought information on 147 users or accounts. Twitter reported that it fully or partially produced information for 20% of Japan's requests.
  • Canada and the United Kingdom each issued 11 requests for information, the third most in its list. Twitter complied with 18% of the requests from both countries.
  • Twitter lists 19 countries that made fewer than 10 requests, including Australia, Greece, Spain and Sweden.
  • Twitter did not comply with any requests from 16 countries, including Turkey, Germany, Brazil and France.

Kessel noted that Twitter plans to release a Transparency Report twice a year.

Twitter's Transparency Report comes on the heels of the company losing a court battle in which it tried to challenge a subpoena ordering it to provide prosecutors with Twitter messages written by an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is [email protected]

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