Compliance Management, Privacy

Snapchat issues first transparency report, detailing more than 300 requests

Snapchat issued its first transparency report on Thursday, which disclosed the more than 300 government requests the company received for user data over the past four months.

The report covered data from November 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015, a change from the typical six month interval most companies follow. Snapchat explained its abbreviated report by saying: “In the interest of transparency, we figured why wait until we had a full six months of data before publishing our first transparency report.”

U.S. authorities accounted for 375 requests, the most of any country, which impacted 666 accounts. Some data was produced in 92 percent of instances. The bulk of the requests, 172, fell under a search warrant while most of the remaining 159 came from a subpoena.

The request type most likely to be rejected was an emergency request. The company didn't receive any wiretap orders.

The company wasn't able to report National Security Requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act because it requires at least a six month reporting delay.

Other countries, including Norway, France, the U.K. and Canada also requested information from Snapchat.

The U.K. issued the highest number of requests from abroad with 10, of which only a third had data produced. France issued nine requests, none of which required Snapchat to turn over data.

Snapchat, which allows users to send photos and videos that disappear after an allotted time, said the data it can release ranges from basic subscriber information, such as Snapchat usernames, email addresses and phone numbers, to logs of previous messages sent and received. The logs contain meta-data about the messages, but not the content, according to its Law Enforcement Guide.

The company did say that in certain instances, it could retrieve the content of the sent messages, but only if its contents hadn't been removed from its servers. The company removes “Snaps” from its servers after all recipients have viewed it, and if one remains unopened, it is automatically deleted 30 days after being sent.

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