THE IRISH STATE, through the courts and other government agencies, has requested that Twitter withhold tweets from a total of 13 accounts so far this year.
Twitter said no in all cases.
The figures come from the microblogging site’s twice-yearly Transparency Report, which was published last week.
It found that, between January and June this year, Irish courts and government agencies made two separate applications to have accounts removed from the streams of users in Ireland.
These requests, had they been granted, would have blocked a total of 13 accounts from appearing to Twitter-users with Irish IP addresses.
Twitter sometimes withholds content on the basis of a formal request from an authorised party (a court, police force, or government agency) on the basis that the content might break the law of a given country.
That might mean, for example, an account that impersonates a real individual, or tweets that constitute harassment or threats.
Responding to questions from TheJournal.ie, a Twitter spokesperson declined to give any further details on the latest report, including details on the accounts and tweets that would have been affected by the requests.
Similarly, a spokesperson from An Garda Síochána would not comment on whether or why the force has made such requests to Twitter, and a spokesperson for the Courts Service was not available for comment.
When content is withheld, however, it looks something like this on your Twitter feed, according to the company’s guidelines:
When an account is being blocked, it will appear like this:
Interestingly, the Irish government has also made three requests for information on four different accounts, according to the report.
One of the three requests was successful.
According to Twitter, government requests for user information typically revolve around criminal investigations.
A spokesperson for the Data Protection Commissioner, which was set up to monitor the private information of members of the public, told TheJournal.ie that requests for information like this had to strike a balance between the needs of criminal investigations and the rights of internet users:
The Data Protection Commissioner has consistently stressed that proportionality in relation to law enforcement/intelligence access to personal information is vital…