Continuing our fight for more #transparency

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Today’s publication marks our fifth Transparency Report. With each successive edition, we aim to provide more meaningful and constructive insight into the global government and copyright requests we receive, and their respective impact, with the goal of making this report more compelling and informative for you.

However, one section in particular has been notably absent from our all of our previous reports, including today’s: our disclosures on national security requests.

Our new report shows a steady increase in global requests for account information, content removal, and copyright takedowns. — @policy

As we alluded to in our last post, earlier this year we met with officials from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington to push for our ability to provide greater transparency concerning national security requests. Specifically, 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. We also pressed for the ability to be specific about different kinds of national security requests and to be able to indicate “zero requests” if that applies to any particular category of request.

Unfortunately, we were not able to make any progress at this meeting, and we were not satisfied with the restrictions set forth by the DOJ. So in early April, we sent a draft midyear Transparency Report to DOJ that presented relevant information about national security requests, and asked the Department to return it to us, indicating which information (if any) is classified or otherwise cannot lawfully be published. At this point, over 90 days have passed, and we still have not received a reply. Therefore, we are weighing our legal options to provide more transparency to our users. While we are heartened by the latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014, as recently introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), which would reform certain aspects of government surveillance and allow Twitter to provide more meaningful transparency to its users, we remain disappointed with the DOJ’s inaction.

We are weighing our legal options to provide more transparency to our users. — @policy

National security requests aside, our new report shows a steady increase in global requests for account information, content removal, and copyright takedowns. Between January and June of this year, we received 2,058 requests (a 46 percent increase from the last report) for account information from 54 countries, with eight countries that had not submitted requests previously. During this same period, we received 432 requests to remove content (up more than 14 percent) from 31 countries, with three new countries submitting demands since January 2014. In addition, we’ve received 9,199 copyright takedown requests for Twitter and Vine content (up 38 percent).

To make this report even more informative, we’re including exact numbers for all data categories and ending our historic practice of obfuscating small numbers of requests or accounts identified. In addition, we continue to dissect our most voluminous dataset — requests for account information from the United States — by adding two new features to the U.S. report: 1) a breakdown in requests by U.S. state/territory, and 2) a list of countries we know to have submitted mutual legal assistance treaty requests through the DOJ. We’re also working to have the entire site, including all 5 reports, localized and available later this year in a dozen languages.

For more details, check out our latest report.