Twitter transparency report shows government data requests on the rise

The social network says the trends will continue 'into the foreseeable future'

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Internet

The company also provides some information in the new report on reasons why it would not comply with an information request. For example, Twitter says it does not comply with requests that fail to identify a Twitter account, and that it may seek to narrow requests that are overly broad.

"We believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact," Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel wrote in a blog post. "To that end, it is vital for us (and other Internet services) to be transparent about government requests for user information and government requests to withhold content from the Internet; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression -- and real privacy implications."

Twitter released its report on the same day Google also sought to provide greater clarity on how it will handle government data requests going forward. Last week Google put out its own transparency report, but on Monday the firm offered additional details on how it says it strives to balance its adherence to investigative laws with protecting users' privacy rights.

"It's important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe," said David Drummond, Google senior vice president and chief legal officer, in a blog post. "But it's just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information."

The company reiterated that whenever a government agency asks for a user's personal information -- such as the information that is provided when signing up for a Google account or the contents of an email -- Google carefully scrutinizes the request, and notifies users "about legal demands when appropriate so that they can contact the entity requesting it or consult a lawyer."

Both Twitter and Google identified Jan. 28 as Data Privacy Day.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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