A report published Wednesday by Twitter Inc. showed that the the total number of user accounts specified in requests from U.S. authorities increased in the first half of this year compared with the previous six months.

The U.S. government requested info on 8,009 accounts in the first half of 2016, up from 7,435 in the second half of last year, according to the company’s biannual transparency report. Still, Twitter pointed to a decline in the absolute number of U.S. government requests for user information, noting it was the first time that metric has declined since records requests began in 2012: U.S. authorities made 2,520 requests after making 2,673 during the last six months of 2015.

The increase in the total number of accounts suggests authorities aggregated a larger number of accounts into individual requests.

Twitter said it disclosed at least some information to the federal government for 82 percent of its requests.

The report says recorded government requests between January and June of this year were typically in connection with criminal investigations, but it doesn’t specify how many were related to anti-terrorism investigations.

The use of Twitter by ISIS and other extremist groups to spread their ideology and recruit new members has seen the social media platform become a source of information and evidence for anti-terror investigators over the past several years.

Governments worldwide made 5,676 requests for information on 13,152 individual Twitter accounts during the first six months of 2016, according to the report, which showed that the United Kingdom, Japan, France and Turkey requested information on a large number of user accounts.

Total information requests rose by 116 — a dramatic shift from the 1,197 additional requests Twitter received between the first and second halves of 2015. Twitter attributes that change to a decline in information requests from the United States and Turkey, saying U.S. authorities made 152 fewer requests compared to the second half of 2015, while Turkish requests fell by 34 percent over the same period.

Twitter also saw a 67 percent increase in information requests from Belgium compared to the last report, and a 61 percent increase in requests from Germany. The company says the Belgium surge was due to the March terror attacks in Brussels.

For all governments worldwide, the amount of requests that Twitter at least partially fulfilled stands at 69 percent.

For the first time, the report quantifies the number of government preservation requests, which ask Twitter to preserve — but not disclose — snapshots of relevant account information for 90 days. In the first six months of the year, Twitter says it received 1,283 preservation requests on 3,331 accounts.

Article By Brendon Bordelon

Source: I’am Digital News

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