Sat, Dec 3, 2016 | updated 05:02 PM IST

Twitter 'refuses to comply with' Pak govt's requests for account removal

Updated: Sep 22, 2016 16:40 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Sept. 22 (ANI): Twitter witnessed an increase in official requests from Pakistan for account information and account removal in the first half of 2016, however, it "did not comply with any of the requests made by Pakistan, including the court order".

According to a transparency report released by Twitter on Wednesday, during January-June 2016, Pakistan made a total of nine removal requests for 32 accounts, which include eight from government officials and one by a court order. This shows a jump of 50 percent as compared to the corresponding period last year.

During the same period, Pakistan also made six requests for the information of 22 accounts, while the government made three requests for three accounts specified during the corresponding period last year, reported The Express Tribune, adding that Twitter did not comply with any of the request made by Pakistan, including the court order.

In the meantime, the online social networking service saw a jump in official requests to remove posts in the first half of this year, The Express Tribune reported the company as saying.

The removal requests were up 13 percent, with the largest volumes coming from Turkey and Russia, which have historically led the pack asking Twitter to get rid of content, according to a transparency report released by the US-based social media firm, however, the report did not detail whether efforts to prevent extremists from using the platform to spread violent messages were a factor in the requests.

The requests typically concerned content deemed illegal by local law, Twitter said.

Overall, Twitter received 4,434 requests for content removal from governments or police agencies during the first half of this year. There were an additional 761 court orders, according to the report.

The requests targeted a total of 20,594 accounts, with no action taken on 15,195 of them, Twitter said, adding that officials in Turkey made 2,493 of the requests, while 1,601 came from Russia.

Requests came from 37 countries, with the United States (U.S.) making 98 requests, of which one was granted, the report said.

However, the U.S. led when it came to government requests for information about Twitter accounts. It made 2,520 account information requests, getting at least some of what it asked for in 82 per cent of cases. "As Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco, California, the majority of global government requests for account information we receive continue to come from the United States," the report noted.

The "top requesters" in the U.S. were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and the New York County District Attorney's Office.

Japan was second when it came to asking for information, accounting for 732 of the overall 5,676 requests, while Britain, France and Turkey rounded out a list of the top five countries requesting Twitter information.

Twitter noted a spurt in requests from Belgium, saying the rise was related to extremist attacks there early this year.

The U.S. National Security Agency chief said last week that he was "perplexed" over Twitter's move to block US intelligence from accessing data that may help thwart violent attack plots. NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers made the comments at a congressional hearing in response to Senator John McCain's criticism of Twitter for refusing access to a real-time analytics service called 'Dataminr'.

Twitter has said it allows both government and business to use the data as long as it is not for "surveillance" purposes. Twitter, which owns a stake in Dataminr, did not want to appear to be too close to the U.S. intelligence, said media reports.

"Due to privacy concerns, we have not authorised Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes," Twitter said in a released statement at the time. (ANI)