Australia's anti-Twitter troll crusade hits single digits

Despite a large anti-trolls campaign from the Australian government against the "arrogant" Twitter, the company has revealed that the government asked for user data from Twitter less than 10 times in the last six months of 2012.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Despite Communications Minister Stephen Conroy calling Twitter "arrogant" for not cooperating with the Australian government, Twitter has revealed that the government asked for user data from Twitter less than 10 times in the last six months of 2012.

In September last year, Conroy took aim at the social-networking site, saying that the company was behaving "arrogantly" in not complying with Australian laws around cooperation with law enforcement in Australia, in particular around preserving data for criminal investigations.

"Twitter, an American company, they think they are above our laws, they think they are above laws in America," he said.

"They just believe they don't have to take any notice of the Australian public, any notice of the Australian laws, and they think they can behave this arrogantly."

His comments came after a number of complaints of so-called "trolling" and cyberbullying on Twitter.

But Twitter's own reporting shows that Australian government agencies do not currently seek much data from it.

Twitter's latest transparency report, released today, shows that Twitter received 1,009 request for information in the second half of 2012, up from 849 requests in the first half of 2012.

Australia made fewer than 10 requests for information in the last period, relating to fewer than 10 accounts. The United States, by comparison, made 815 requests for 1,145 accounts, while Brazil and the UK made 34 and 25 requests, respectively. Australia's requests for information were only successful 20 percent of the time.

Twitter has said that it will cooperate with requests made by Australian law-enforcement agencies, provided they go through the proper channels. According to the website's law-enforcement page, requests must be issued from a US court either through the mutual legal assistance treaty or a letter rogatory.

Just one request for the removal of content came from Australian government agencies in the last six months of 2012.

Earlier this month, the Australian government launched a six-page policy document for complaints handling on social-networking sites that has the support of YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Twitter has yet to sign on to the policy.

It comes as Twitter is expected to open an office in Sydney imminently.

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