On 14th July 2021, Twitter released its bi-annual Transparency report for the period July-December 2020. Twitter revealed that India is the single largest source of government information requests. It accounts for 25% of the global volume and 15% of the global accounts.
Details of the report
Globally Twitter received 14,561 such requests for 51,584 accounts in the six months. Out of these, the total Indian requests stood at 3,615 requests for 7,762 accounts. This is an increase of 38% from the first half of the year. In the first half of 2020, the number stood at 2,613.
The company said, “over the past year, we’ve experienced and continue to navigate severe global challenges, including the covid-19 pandemic. We’ve also seen concerted attempts by governments to limit access to the Internet generally and to Twitter specifically.” In addition, the company said, that global governments and Law enforcement agencies submitted approximately 15% more information requests as compared to the previous reporting period.
In India, the number of legal requests (blocking/ removal) stood at 6,971. It is an increase of 151% from 2,772 from the first six months of 2020. As a result of this, Twitter withheld 60 accounts and 598 tweets. In addition, 1,310 accounts were either suspended or some content was removed for violating Twitter’s terms and conditions. Furthermore, the company added, 94% of the total global volume of legal demands came from only five countries. These were Japan, India, Russia, Turkey, and South Korea.
“Accounts of 199 verified journalists and news outlets from around the world were subjects to 361 legal demands. It is a 26% increase as compared to the previous report.”
Very small ratio of requests acted upon
For June-December 2020 period, the compliance rate for government information requests was 30% globally and only 0.6% in India.
After India, the second-highest volume in information requests came from the United States. It comprised 22% of global information requests.
During the said period, Twitter received a total of 38,524 legal demands to remove content specifying 1,31,933 accounts. The platform withheld or otherwise removed some of all of the reported content in response to 29% of these global legal demands.
Twitter vs Indian Govt
Twitter and the Indian government are engaged in a legal battle for quite some time now. The battle is over multiple issues including taking down tweets and removing tagged tweets. However, the most important reason is the controversial toolkit case and the delay in compliance with the new intermediary rules 2021.
Recently after strong criticism from the Delhi high Court, Twitter finally appointed a resident grievance officer. Delhi High Court also directed the company to set up a permanent physical office in India.