Bloomberg News

Twitter User-Detail Inquiries From Governments Surge

July 02, 2012

Twitter Inc., the micro-blogging service, said it received more requests from governments for user information in this year’s first half than it had for all of 2011.

Twitter, in its first Transparency Report, said 80 percent of the 849 queries it received from governments worldwide came from within the U.S. The San Francisco-based company fully or partially complied with 75 percent of the U.S. inquiries, Jeremy Kessel, its manager of legal policy, said in a blog post today releasing the study.

The company, which has grown to more than 140 million users, is trying to shed light on efforts by governments worldwide and what they want with user data. Twitter was told last month it must turn over information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts, in an order from a New York judge who compared the duties of social media sites to those of witnesses to a street crime.

The July 4 Independence Day holiday in the U.S. is “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,” Kessel said in his post.

Today’s inaugural report is similar to one produced by Google Inc. (GOOG:US), the world’s largest Internet search company, and closely held Twitter plans to publish updates twice a year. The report includes government requests for user information and to withhold content, as well as requests related to copyright.

In addition to the new report, the company is working with Herdict, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University that monitors Web access around the world. The new partnership intends to drive more traffic and attention to Herdict, the company said.

In the report, Twitter said it fully or partially complied with 63 percent of user information requests on average around the world since Jan. 1. The U.S. led with 679 requests for user information, followed by Japan with 98.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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