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August 2, 2013

Government requests for Twitter user data increase in first half of 2013

US tops list with 902 requests.

By CBR Staff Writer

Twitter has said that user data requests from governments have increased 40% in the first six months of 2013.

The social networking site said it received 1,157 requests for data covering 1,697 users, and handed over data in 55% of the cases.

The US topped the list with 902, or about 78% of requests, compared to 679 for the same period last year.

Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel said: "Over the last six months, we have gone from withholding content in two countries to withholding content (ranging from hate speech to defamation) in seven countries.

"An important conversation has begun about the extent to which companies should be allowed to publish information regarding national security requests.

"We believe it’s important to be able to publish numbers of national security requests – including FISA disclosures – separately from non-secret requests. Unfortunately, we are still not able to include such metrics."

Earlier this month, Twitter gave user data to the French authorities to help identify tweeters accused of posting racist comments on the site.

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Twitter, which has more than 200m users, was not among the companies which were tapped by the National Security Agency and the FBI under US surveillance programme, Prism.

Last month, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo stated that the company complies with rules when it receives valid legal requests for information about its users in the countries in which it operates.

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