Government Private Data Requests Rising

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With the ever increasing security debate and what information the government will gather on their own. And those they try to force to give up user information. There is another well-known site coming under pressure to release this users’ private data; Twitter. Is our information safe from the Government? Hackers seem to gather our information and use it for their benefit (in some cases). What will the Government do with this given information?

Twitters Transparency reports that requests rose 40% in the first six months of the year. Governments usually want the emails or IP addresses tied to a Twitter account. The United States made three-quarters of the 1,157 data requests during the six-month period, the company’s report said.

In one well-known case, a French court ordered Twitter in February to turn over information about an anonymous account that posted anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter, which had initially resisted by arguing that the data was stored beyond French jurisdiction in its California servers, ultimately complied in June.

Efforts to censor Twitter content also rose sharply, the company said. “Over the last six months, we have gone from withholding content in two countries to withholding content [ranging from hate speech to defamation] in seven countries,” said Twitter’s legal policy manager, Jeremy Kessel.

Twitter was censored the most in Brazil, where courts issued orders on nine occasions to remove a total of 39 defamatory tweets. Authorities in Japan, another large Twitter user base, made 87 requests for user information, while UK agencies filed 26. Most requests come in the form of court-issued subpoenas, Twitter said. The report did not include secret information requests within the US authorised under the Patriot Act. US companies are prohibited from acknowledging the existence of data requests made under those statutes.

Google in January reported this rise of requested information without warrants. Since Google started sharing these figures, user data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009. Meanwhile, between the end of 2010 and 2012, Google’s compliance with the requests has dropped from 94 percent to 88 percent.

From July through December 2012, requests were made:

68 percent of the requests Google received from government entities in the US were through subpoenas. These are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.

22 percent were through ECPA search warrants. These are, generally speaking, orders issued by judges under ECPA, based on a demonstration of “probable cause” to believe that certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.

The remaining 10 percent were mostly court orders issued under ECPA by judges or other processes that are difficult to categorize.

Transparency reports such as the one published by Twitter have been a contentious issue in the wake of the leaks by former security contractor Edward Snowden, who alleged that service providers including Google, Facebook and Microsoft systematically pass along huge troves of user data to the National Security Agency.

The companies, which have denied the scope of Snowden’s allegations, have asked the US government for permission to reveal the precise number of national security requests they receive in order to publicly argue that their co-operation with the government has been relatively limited.

I don’t think we are safe because our information is all over the web even when you search for yourself; you most likely to find you Twitter, Facebook, and/or website. I think it just comes with the times, but I don’t like it. However, I do post (now) what I want people to see and keep the rest on my computer at home. In hopes that my virus protection and firewall work so I’m not vulnerable to other getting some information that I don’t want them to have.

What do you have to say about our private data and how government is attaining this information?

Forrest L. Rawls

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