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Twitter’s transparency report is still not the full picture

Firm says it is being denied full disclosure
Fri Feb 07 2014, 10:07
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SOCIAL NETWORK Twitter has released its latest transparency report, prefacing it with a complaint that the government is still limiting its right to free expression.

A blog post called Fighting for More Transparency introduced the report, and said that Twitter still needs more rights to disclose information, particularly about things that relate to national security requests.

Despite a recent promise from the US government to allow firms to have some disclosure room, Twitter said it has not seen any positive results.

"We think it is essential for companies to be able to disclose numbers of national security requests of all kinds - including national security letters and different types of FISA court orders - separately from reporting on all other requests," it said.

"For the disclosure of national security requests to be meaningful to our users, it must be within a range that provides sufficient precision to be meaningful. Allowing Twitter, or any other similarly situated company, to only disclose national security requests within an overly broad range seriously undermines the objective of transparency. In addition, we also want the freedom to disclose that we do not receive certain types of requests, if, in fact, we have not received any."

Twitter has pressed the US Department of Justice before, and said that it will keep doing that. At present though, it said that the government steps on it, and "unfairly impacts" user privacy.

"We believe there are far less restrictive ways to permit discussion in this area while also respecting national security concerns," it added.

"Therefore, we have pressed the U.S. Department of Justice to allow greater transparency, and proposed future disclosures concerning national security requests that would be more meaningful to Twitter's users. We are also considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights."

The published report includes six months worth of requests and Twitter said that during that period it has seen a 66 percent increase in account information requests. These came from 46 countries and affected 6,400 accounts.

59 percent of these requests come from the US government and that works out at 833 cyber door knocks. Twitter complied with around two-thirds of the requests.

The UK made 56 requests affecting 117 accounts, 43 percent of which Twitter complied with. µ


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