Skip to main content

Twitter received fewer information requests from government agencies in the first half of 2021 — but complied with more

Twitter received fewer information requests from government agencies in the first half of 2021 — but complied with more

/

Longer term trends show the social platform denying more requests from law enforcement over time

Share this story

The Twitter bird logo in white against a dark background with outlined logos around it and red circles rippling out from it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In the first half of 2021, Twitter received fewer user information requests from governments and law enforcement agencies than in the six months before — but increased its compliance to a level that meant more user information was released overall.

That’s according to data published by the social media platform Tuesday as part of its latest transparency report. The Information Requests report lists the number of requests as 12,369 globally between January and June 2021, with an overall compliance rate of 36.2 percent. In the previous reporting period for the last six months of 2020, Twitter received 14,561 requests and complied with 30 percent.

Overall, Twitter said that the volume of user information requests had decreased by 15 percent compared to the previous reporting period for the last six months of 2020. But the social platform also complied with a higher proportion of requests, leading to a higher number of successful requests in total.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.

According to the report, agencies associated with the United States government accounted for just under one quarter (24 percent) of government information requests from January to June 2021. The second highest volume of requests came from India, which comprised 18 percent of global information requests, and Japan was third globally.

In keeping with global patterns, US agencies submitted fewer information requests in total than in the previous reporting period — a 7 percent decrease — but received an increase in compliance that resulted in more successful requests overall.

During the first half of 2021, Twitter said that it complied with 68 percent of requests from US agencies, a significant increase on the 2020 average of 59.5 percent compliance. But over the longer term, Twitter has become less likely to comply with these requests: in 2015 and 2016, the compliance rate for requests from US agencies was around 80 percent.

In its guidance to law enforcement, Twitter states that non-public information about Twitter users (e.g., IP address logs and other details about the account holder) will not be released except in response to legal process, such as a subpoena or court order, except in the case of an emergency like a terrorist incident or other imminent physical threat to harm. Requests for the contents of communications between users, such as direct messages, also require a search warrant according to these guidelines.

“Twitter generally requires a search warrant to disclose any contents of communications, since users have the greatest privacy interest in this type of information,” the report page for US information requests explained. “However, Twitter may disclose content in the U.S. without receiving a search warrant in rare circumstances, in accordance with applicable law. For example, if there is an emergency involving an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm, in response to certain national security requests, or with the account-holder’s lawful consent.”

Twitter also reports child sexual exploitation content as required by US law, the report said.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.