Government censorship of Twitter rising

Featured - July 4th, 2012

Twitter’s “transparency report” has indicated that government censorship of the site is on the rise, with most of the requests surprisingly coming from the US, AFP reports. Government requests include user information and blocking content.

Twitter’s legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel posted on a blog, “We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011”. The US government issued a total of 679 requests for user information, while Japan has 98 and 11 each for Britain and Canada. Twitter gave some or all information for 75% of the US cases. Kessel told the AFP that they notify users of requests for their account information. According to AFP, the microblogging site received 3,378 “takedown” notices for copyright violations. Twitter removed 38% of the requested tweets.

Twitter followed Google’s lead in releasing a report in June 2012. Google reported censorship requests from unexpected countries, such as Western countries. Google said that most cases are requests to remove political content.

“Twitter’s terms of service have long made it absolutely clear that its users ‘own’ their content. We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights,” Twitter said in a statement.

Internet censorship is more prevalent in China, where sensitive issues are blocked from searches and users are prohibited to post political content on microblogging site Sina Weibo.