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India accounted for 18% of all govt info requests to Twitter in 2021 first half

The Twitter transparency report offers disclosures on the type and volume of requests it receives from both government and non-government entities during a specified period, and actions it takes against these requests. (Photo: Reuters)Premium
The Twitter transparency report offers disclosures on the type and volume of requests it receives from both government and non-government entities during a specified period, and actions it takes against these requests. (Photo: Reuters)

  • Where appropriate, Twitter will push back on requests for account information which are incomplete or improper, such as requests that are facially invalid or overbroad in scope

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NEW DELHI: Account-related information requests from the Indian government made for 18% of all such requests received by Twitter globally between January and June 2021 - the second highest during the period. In its latest bi-annual Transparency Report, Twitter also said India accounted for one-fourth of all government requests around the world to preserve information related to accounts.

India’s volume of data requests, however, has come down since the previous report, when Twitter had disclosed that India had accounted for 25% of all government requests made to Twitter between July and December 2020 against divulging information on accounts of users on the social media platform. India topped the chart in terms of government data requests during that period.

Total number of government data requests for the Jan-June 2021 period stood at 1,987, down from 3,486 requests that Twitter had received from India during the previous period. 

The Twitter transparency report offers disclosures on the type and volume of requests it receives from both government and non-government entities during a specified period, and actions it takes against these requests. The company complied with 2% of routine requests for information and 6% of emergency requests.

During the period under review, the company gave partial or no response to 64% of all government requests it received around the world. In contrast, 70% of all government data requests to Twitter had remained unanswered by the company as of December 2020.

“Where appropriate, Twitter will push back on requests for account information which are incomplete or improper, such as requests that are facially invalid or overbroad in scope. Depending on the circumstances, we may produce some data after working to narrow a request, or we may not disclose any data. We also may not have any responsive records to produce," the company said in a statement.

In terms of other information requests, the Indian government made the second highest number of requests to Twitter to preserve information related to specific accounts on the social media platform. India accounted for one-fourth of all account preservation requests made to Twitter between January and June 2021.

The Indian government also made fewer demands to Twitter for legal action to be taken against specific accounts. According to the report, the number of individual accounts against which the Indian government demanded legal action from Twitter went down by 10% over the previous report. As a result, India accounted for 11% of all such requests made globally, behind Japan (43%), Russia (25%) and Turkey (13%).

Incidentally, the Indian government made 38.5% of all demands from Twitter to take legal action against “verified journalists and news outlets" — the most in the world during this period. Of 231 legal demands received by Twitter against 172 journalists and publications, 89 came from India.

“Three tweets were withheld in India in relation to legal requests for content removal under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The three tweets were from the accounts of Indian journalists and were reported for possible incitement towards offline harm," Twitter’s report added.

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