Supporting the cause for free and open internet, Twitter has recently released its second transparency report, detailing statistics and figures indicating the rise of government intervention in users and user data. This biannual report touches upon government requests for user information, requests for content removal and copyright notices. It also highlights how Twitter deals with these requests.
According to the micro blogging website, it received two removal requests from India: one from the court and another from a government agency, for 16 user accounts. These removal requests were made due to the fact that the content may be illegal, defamatory or prohibited in the jurisdiction of the country. However, Twitter neither withheld accounts nor tweets related to these requests. In addition, it reports less than 10 information requests from India, out of which none were fulfilled. Information requests can be categorized as government requests for user account information, mostly in connection with criminal investigation or cases.
What does this imply?
This transparency report can be taken as an addendum to the transparency report by Google. In all, it indicates the rising demand of the Governments all over the world to censor data and to put a cap on what the netizens speak. In the Indian perspective, it is well known that the Government and some politicians have an aversion for anything said online about important matters concerning people and issues and are ready to jump the gun to try to shut these sentiments. The incident in question is the Assam riot last year where the government had tried to block some twitter accounts. The requests received by Twitter are most likely to be during the aftermath of such incidents. When the government saw that its demands were not met, they turned to the Indian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who were liable to them. It is possible that the accounts were blocked by certain ISPs in the country.
Who is at the forefront?
With Kapil Sibal at the helm of things trying to block everything remotely related to the government and its decisions, it would only seem likely that India should top the list of countries that made maximum requests to Twitter. But USA takes the lion’s share in this regard, with about 815 information requests pouring in, forming about 80% of all requests received worldwide. Twitter also received 42 requests to remove content or accounts compared to just 6 requests in the first half of 2012. The only thing that went down was the number of copyright notices, which dipped to 3268 from 3378. Overall, 44 tweets were withheld, interestingly, all from France. The number of removal requests was highest from Brazil.
The internet has always protested against infringement of human expression. This is one platform where anyone and everyone can make their voice heard among the masses. In this regard, all social media and web companies advocate the concept of free and open internet, with Google aggressively advocating this cause. Even in India, where people can be arrested over a facebook post, it is important to act responsibly and not be carried away by the magnanimity of the situation. Free and Open internet is definitely what is needed, but it doesn’t give everyone the license to do anything they want. With great power comes great responsibility. It is time to be responsible.
What do you think about these reports? Do you think the government has a right to intervene? Let us know.
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