Snapchat issues first transparency report, detailing almost 400 requests

Snapchat issues transparancey data for 4 month period showing nearly 100 government data requests per month.

Hundreds of thousands of naked Snapchat pictures leaked by hackers
Hundreds of thousands of naked Snapchat pictures leaked by hackers

Snapchat issued its first transparency report on Thursday last week, which disclosed the company received just under 400 government requests for user data over the past four months, overwhelmingly led by the US, with the UK issuing the next highest number of requests.

The report covered data from 1 November, 2014 through to28 February 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.”

US authorities accounted for 375 requests, the most of any country, which impacted 666 accounts, the UK issued 10, of which only a third had data produced. France issued nine requests, none of which required Snapchat to turn over data. Other countries, including Norway and Canada also requested information from Snapchat.

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.

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.

Sign up to our newsletters