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Twitter Releases Figures On Government Data Requests

Following in the footsteps of a path well-trodden by Google, Twitter have this week released a “transparency tool“. This allows the public to see how many times governments have asked for user information or for the removal on content.

The timing of this release is rather poignant in the wake of yesterday’s court ruling in New York city that denied Twitter’s request to quash a subpoena request for an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s data.

The majority of requests came from the US government, accounting for 679 of the 849 requests made between January 1st 2012 and June 30th 2012. Twitter complied in whole or in part with 75% of those request. The total number may seem rather small in comparison to the 3,800 items American authorities requested via court order from Google in the latter half of 2011, however it is the upward surge of data requests from governments that worries Twitter.

Writing in a blog post, the micro-blogging company said: “We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.”

However, not everyone was that surprised by the figures released. Speaking to Ars Technica, Eva Galperin from the Electronic Frontier Foundation said:

“I think that the US government has a pretty good handle on the fact of who has certain kinds of information and they understand that they can ask for it. I would not be surprised to see other countries join in the act in the next couple of years.”

Do you think that there is too much online censorship? Last week saw and blocked in China by local authorities. If governments are seemingly able to pick and choose what they do and don’t want people to be able to see online, are we heading down a dangerous path to state controlled press?

Please let us know your opinions by leaving a comment below.