Requests for Twitter users' details still rare in Australia, compliance report shows

Australian authorities have been relatively slow by world standards to use Twitter as a source of information on persons of interest, according to new figures from Twitter's latest, overhauled Transparency Report that confirm the social-media giant is only processing one such request every 6 weeks.

During the first half of this year Twitter handled 4363 requests for user information from 62 countries but just 9 of those requests – pertaining to 10 Twitter accounts – were received in Australia, the figures showed. That was down from 10 in the second half of 2014 but much higher than the 2 requests received in the first half a year ago.

The popular social-media service this week overhauled its transparency reporting, which it has been running since 2012 to provide a view of authorities' interest in its users. The revamped site now also includes statistics on the number of requests related to trademark notices and email privacy practices.

Overall, requests for account information increased by 52 percent and affected 78 percent more account holders than in the previous half-year, Twitter senior manager for global legal policy Jeremy Kessel said in a blog post explaining the changes.

That increase was “the largest increase between reporting periods we have ever seen”, he said, “with removal requests and copyright notices growing by 26 percent and 11 percent respectively.”

US authorities lodged 56 percent of all requests to Twitter, while Japan (425), Turkey (412), the UK (299), France (139), India (113), Spain (110), Saudi Arabia (93), Brazil (52) and Canada (35) rounded out the top ten.

Despite its low number of requests, Australian information requests were relatively successful, with 89 percent of requests honoured by Twitter – compared with 58 percent overall.

The new email privacy report, which rates recipient email domains based on their compliance with StartTLS message-encryption standards, found that 94 percent of emails Twitter sent to users were encrypted end-to-end.

Other statistics showed interesting trends: for example, the Turkish government lodged by far the most requests for Twitter content to be taken down – 718 out of 1003 requests worldwide – compared to just 68 in Russia, 33 in India, and 25 in the United States. Australia didn't lodge any such requests.

Copyright holders served Twitter with 18,490 takedown notices using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other methods, up 11 percent over the previous report.

Trademark holders lodged 12,911 takedown requests with Twitter during the reporting period, just 7 percent of which were granted.

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