By Courtney Trenwith
Gulf gov’ts are increasingly demanding information on Twitter account users, according to its latest transparency report
Saudi Arabia requested Twitter divulge the account information of 232 members last year, the microblogging website has revealed in its biannual transparency report.
The UAE government requested the account information of 17 Twitter users last year, while Kuwait demanded information of six Twitter users, and Oman asked for five.
Twitter said it complied with only 7 percent of Saudi Arabia’s requests and none from the other governments.
The requests for account information increased last year compared to 2013, when Saudi authorities sought details of 112 Twitters users during July-December, 2013, and the UAE asked for information related to two accounts during the same period.
Twitter has published biannual transparency reports since 2012 in a bid to keep users informed of when governments and non-government organisations demand information. Many governments have made such requests legal since the advent of the web allowed users to post comments online anonymously.
Many of the requests were in relation to criminal investigations, Twitter said.
It always informed users when a request for information had been made, the company said.
Globally, the site received 40 percent more requests for account information, affecting 128 percent more account holders, during the last six months of 2014 than the first six months, it said.
“As always, we continue to fight to provide notice to affected users when we’re not otherwise prohibited,” Twitter said in the report.
“The continued rise follows industry trends and is also likely due in part to Twitter’s continued international expansion. There were also several world events during this time period, including various elections and terrorist attacks, which led to an increase in requests.”
Majority of requests (56 percent) were made by the US government. Turkey – led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly conservative government – was the second largest requester, with 12 percent of the total.
The other most prolific requesters were the governments of Japan, the UK and Russia, which only made its first demand during the second half of 2014 after it passed a new bloggers law.