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

India accounted for 18% of all govt info requests to Twitter in 2021 first half
Photo Credit: Reuters
27 Jan, 2022
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Account-related information requests from the Indian government made for 18 percent 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 that India accounted for one-fourth of all government requests around the world to preserve information related to accounts.

However, India’s volume of data requests have reduced since the previous report, when Twitter had disclosed that between July and December 2020, the Indian government had accounted for 25 percent of all government requests made to Twitter 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.

The 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. This represents a decline of 43 percent in information requests against user accounts that the Indian government made to Twitter.

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

The company said that against the government information requests received during the latest period, the company gave partial or no response to 64 percent of all such requests it received around the world. In contrast, 70 percent 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.

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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 percent over the previous report. As a result, India accounted for 11 percent of all such requests made globally — behind Japan (43%), Russia (25%) and Turkey (13%).

Incidentally, the Indian government made 38.5 percent 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 of them came from India.

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“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.