On July 2, social media service Twitter released its first ever “Transparency Report,” revealing the alarming number of requests it has received from the government of the United States to delete tweets and disclose information about its users.
The report covers activity from January 1, 2012 to the end of June, and although brief, it contains irrefutable evidence of the government’s sustained effort to monitor the online activity of citizens of this nation. A fair reading of the report indicates that officials of the federal government are becoming increasingly interested in Twitter and in what is said there and who says it.
That said, however, there’s no need to interpret the data included in the report to find evidence of government meddling. Witness the following straightforward statement included in Twitter’s report:
We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.
Twitter’s goal in publishing the report is to “shed more light on” three critical areas of online privacy:
1. government requests received for user information,
2. government requests received to withhold content, and
3. DMCA takedown notices received from copyright holders.
While that aim is certainly laudable, the report is no Declaration of Independence from government surveillance, however. Twitter insists that the information contained in the report is provided in order to “hold governments accountable,” but the data also show that Twitter is more often than not complying with the government’s demands.
Click here to read the entire article.