Twitter has been publishing its Transparency Report since 2012, in an attempt to make its users aware of legal requests received by the social platform, intellectual property-related requests, and email privacy best practices. The report, published every two years, contains also information on the actions taken by Twitter in response to the received requests.
The report can be found here: https://transparency.twitter.com/en.html. We read it and found a lot of interesting information available.
An important component of the report is represented by the data about the information requests received by Twitter by the government, in a given period. Government information requests are defined as “requests issued by law enforcement and other government agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Justice or an Office of the District Attorney)”.
According to the most recent report, the United States remains the country with the greatest number of requests (38% of total requests for account information received). Japan follows, with 16% of total information requests (and an increase from the previous report by 33%). These two major requesters are followed by The United Kingdom, France, and Turkey.
Additionally, a number of countries have significantly increased their number of requests. Some example include Argentina, that had a 320% increase in total information requests; Mexico, with a 220% increase in total information requests; and South Korea, that doubled the information requests.
Another important component of the report is represented by the number of removal requests. Removal requests include requests received from governments and other authorized agency to remove or withhold content that may be illegal under specific jurisdictions. Turkey is the country with the greatest number of removal requests (2,232), followed by France (1,334) and Russia (519). Twitter reports also example of situations that led to withholding content. For instance, Twitter withheld two accounts and 15 Tweets in Brazil in response to court orders, content of which were either defamatory or violated electoral law.
The third component of the report includes the total number of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices and counter notices received for Twitter, Vine, and Periscope content, along with data about the top five copyright reporters across all three platforms. According to the report, takedown noticed have increased by about 18% since the last report.
The fourth component of the report includes the total number of trademark notices received and the accounts affected (that have increased by 3% since the last report).
The fifth component of the report includes Email privacy, and actions taken by Twitter to ensure the security of the communication exchanges with its users.
The sixth component of the report includes Government TOS reports, a new section that includes reports received from official governments to review content against Twitter’s terms of service.
To summarize, Twitter seems to be doing a pretty good job in making available to its users important information about requests received by governments and related agencies worldwide. To the point that Twitter has been assessed as one of the most privacy-sensitive company by the recent report released by the EFF (https://www.eff.org/who-has-your-back-government-data-requests-2015#twitter-report) and that we discussed in a previous article. Despite the above . mentioned effort put into place by Twitter to ensure transparency, the EFF identifies some possible areas of improvement. For example, Twitter promises to provide advance notice to users about government data demands, but does not promise to provide notice after an emergency has ended or a gag has been lifted.