FEBRUARY 11, 2021
NEW DELHI: India’s information and account removal requests to Twitter shot up exponentially between Jan-June 2020 and Jan-Jun 2019. During the same period, legal information requests made to Facebook also jumped. So did the number of hours lost to internet shutdowns.
Information requests made to Twitter leapfrogged by 451%. Following such requests, the company has to reveal who operates a specific account. Overall, the government made 2,613 such requests, specifying 6,346 accounts, out of which Twitter complied with just 1%. Account removal requests also registered a 450% leap, as per statistics offered by the micro-blogging company. Since 2012, India has made 5,5000 requests for account withdrawals, out of which Twitter complied with 18.8% requests. These requests specified 29,213 accounts.
Legal information requests also showed a 57% vault though content restriction requests indicate a 34% fall.
Internet shutdowns also went up during this period, as per UK-based organisation Top10vpn’s annual report. In 2020, the number of hours lost (8,927) resulted in an estimated economic loss of $2.8 billion. The previous year, 4,196 hours were lost causing a projected loss of $1.3 billion. To put it in percentage, there was a 113% rise in the number of hours lost and a 115% rise in economic cost between 2019 and 2020. The report further assessed the global internet shutdown cost to be around $4 billion, with India accounting for nearly 70% of the total losses.
Between January and June 2020, India stood second after the US in the list of countries which wrote to Twitter for account information of users. Since 2012, India has made 5,877 information requests, specifying 19,8000 accounts from the microblogging platform. Almost half of these requests, 44.5% came in the first half of 2020.
During the same period, India sent Twitter 149 legal demands for action on verified accounts, including journalists and news outlets. About 142 demands were made by Turkey. Twitter withheld two tweets under Section 69A of the IT Act but said it did not act on the remaining demands since the accounts came under its “protected speech” policies.
India also made 35,560 requests, impacting 57,294 accounts, for user information from Facebook during January-June 2020, out of which Facebook complied with 50% requests. In the second half of 2019, India had made 26,698 requests for user information, out of which Facebook had complied with 57%. Globally, India was the second country with the maximum requests, after the US (57,910).
In the same period, Facebook also restricted access to 681 items in response to directions from the ministry of electronics and information technology for violating Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, including content against security of the state and public order.