updated 02:53 pm EST, Thu February 6, 2014
Twitter complains over lack of detail when reporting FISA requests
Twitter has published its latest Transparency Report, detailing information requests and takedown notices, while at the same time taking the opportunity to attack the US government over its lack of transparency on national security requests. While Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and LinkedIn provided limited details about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests, Twitter has opted not to, due to its current lack of usefulness.
The tech company group made an agreement with the US Department of Justice over FISA requests, but were restricted in their transparency reporting to provide requests in bands of one thousand covering a six-month period, with a further six-month delay before publication.
Writing on the company blog, Twitter Global Legal Policy manager Jeremy Kessel admitted the agreement was a step in the right direction, though claims the ranges "do not provide meaningful or sufficient transparency for the public, especially for entities that do not receive a significant number of - or any - national security requests." Kessel explains that for the data to be useful to readers, it needs to be ranged in a way that it "provides sufficient precision to be meaningful," with request disclosures under a wide range "seriously undermines the objective of transparency."Kessel also asks for the ability to state that no requests of a certain type had been received, something blocked by the current method, which offers the lowest possible reportable band of 0-999.
The most recent report covers two years of data, including worldwide requests for withholding content, copyright takedown requests, and counter notices. It is noted that the service saw an increase of 66 percent in requests for account information the last 24 months, with requests coming from more than 45 different countries and impacting over 6,400 accounts. Even so, this only covers 0.0028 percent of the company's 230 million active users. The United States takes the top spot, making up 59 percent of all account information requests made, with the 833 requests affecting 1,323 accounts.