Info turnover news: Twitter transparency report; Microsoft email ruling

When Twitter released a transparency report in February, the company noted it was considering legal action to push the government to let the company disclose more information about national security requests. In its transparency report published today, the San Francisco microblogging company says the same thing, saying it hasn’t really gotten anywhere with the government.

Companies including Google and Facebook also publish transparency reports, but after the NSA spying revelations that have pushed to the forefront the fact that the government’s surveillance is enabled by Internet companies’ technology, there has been more interest in national security requests. The companies aren’t allowed to say much except give mostly meaningless ranges (such as 0 to 999, for example) about how many such requests there are.

What Twitter wants, according to a blog post by Jeremy Kessel, senior manager of Global Legal Policy: “If the government will not allow us to publish the actual number of requests, we want the freedom to provide that information in much smaller ranges that will be more meaningful to Twitter’s users, and more in line with the relatively small number of non-national security information requests we receive.”

Meanwhile, Twitter notes “a steady increase” in requests for information, removal of content and copyright takedowns. Some numbers from the report, which covers January to June: All requests were up 46 percent to more than 2,000; eight countries that had not previously submitted requests did so in the past six months; copyright takedown requests for Twitter and Vine were up 38 percent.

Here’s a chart showing removal requests since 2012:

And in other news about tech companies turning over information to the government, Microsoft today was ordered by a federal judge to produce emails stored in servers in Ireland, in a case other tech companies such as Apple and Cisco and privacy advocates were watching. Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith had written before the hearing that “this dispute should be important to you if you use email, because it could well turn on who owns your email—you or the company that stores it in the cloud.” The ruling was stayed to give the company time to appeal, according to the Associated Press.


Photo from AFP/Getty Images archives


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