Amazon gets transparency religion about government snooping -- but what took you so long?

Two years too late? AWS CISO Stephen Schmidt finally opens kimono, and promises to continue doing so

amazon transparency report
Credit: Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Amazon Web Services releases its first post-Snowden transparency report, promising it'll be a bi-annual affair from now on. Finally! Where have you been, AWS?

After coming under public pressure from civil-liberties groups -- and private pressure from customers -- the cloud-services company is finally telling us how many subpoenas, search warrants and court orders it's received so far this year.

Or, at least, it's telling us about the ones it's allowed to.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers read between the lines.

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Zack Whittaker reports:

Amazon has disclosed how many government data demands it receives -- finally. ... Its cloud services power millions of apps, sites, and services around the world. But [it's] the last major technology company in the Fortune 500 to disclose. [It] had faced mounting pressure in the face of transparency reports becoming an industry norm.

The company could not specifically say whether or not it had received a single classified order. [Its] second bi-annual report is expected later this year, or early next.  MORE

Ben Fox Rubin chickens out: [Oh, ha ha -Ed.]

Amazon [is] for the first time...offering the public more information on how often it hands over its customers' data to judges and law enforcement agencies. [It] runs the largest public cloud-infrastructure business in the world, [but] hadn't previously released, despite repeated criticism from the [ACLU] and [EFF].

Facebook, for instance, sent out its first biannual report in August 2013.  MORE

Amazon Web Services' CISO, Stephen Schmidt, blogs a brave face on it:

Amazon knows customers care deeply about privacy and data security. ... Amazon does not disclose customer information unless we’re required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order. ... We have repeatedly challenged government subpoenas for customer information that we believed were overbroad.

While we recognize the legitimate needs of law enforcement agencies...and cooperate with them when they observe legal safeguards...we oppose legislation mandating or prohibiting security or encryption technologies that would have the effect of weakening [your] security.

Amazon’s bi-annual information request report...provides additional information on the types and volume of information requests we receive.  MORE

But Rob Williams finds it "challenging to interpret" the report:

While it'd be easy to think that Amazon wouldn't receive nearly as much legal pressure as social media actually does deal with it on a near daily basis.

[In the first five months of] 2015, Amazon received a total of 813 subpoenas...542 warranted a full response, 126 received a partial response...145 received no response. ... Amazon was even hit with 25 search warrants, with 21 of those resulting in either a full or partial response.

13 court orders were received, while "between 0 - 249" were received that revolve around national security. [And] 132 "non-US" requests received, as well as a single takedown notice.  MORE

So Kelly Fiveash stays snarky:

Amazon – unlike its tech rivals – spent years resisting going public with the data.

[But] if you're curious to know exactly how many national security orders Amazon had received, you'll have to whistle.  MORE

Any clue why Amazon took so long? Here's David Murphy's lore: [You're fired -Ed.]

The U.S. government might have asked Amazon to hold back...seeing as Amazon provides cloud computing services to 17 different intelligence agencies that make up the government's greater "intelligence community."

The company didn't offer any additional explanation as to why, or what, it actually did, [in] contrast to other companies' transparency reports that [give] greater detail just how a company does (or doesn't) comply.  MORE

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by , who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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