Reddit handed over user info for 58% of government requests

The website also received hundreds of request to remove content or links

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Reddit today released what it called its first "transparency report," which details requests for user information from both government entities and private lawyers.

The site, which allows users to post news, photos, videos and opinions, said that in 2014, it received 55 requests for user information, including account registration data, log data and content uploaded by users from outside parties.

Reddit agreed to hand over information for 58% of all government and civil requests, and 64% of all US state and federal government requests.

screen shot 2015 01 29 at 3.48.00 pm Reddit

Requests for user information.

"We regularly get requests from governments and law enforcement agencies for private information about our users or to remove content or subreddits [sub topic pages]; we occasionally get formal subpoenas and legal requests from individuals. These requests are usually legitimate; we push back on any that we view as overbroad or unnecessarily invasive of privacy," Reddit said in a blog post.

Thirty percent of the civil and US federal or state government requests it received included a court order prohibiting the website from notifying users.

The website received information requests from state and local government agencies in 15 different U.S. states.

"Unless prohibited by court order, Reddit will inform users of state and federal civil subpoenas for their information and provide an opportunity to challenge them before we disclose any information," Reddit said.

The website also received hundreds of request to remove content or links that users had posted. Reddit said it "pushed back" and did not remove content in 69% of requests to do so. In all, the site received 218 requests to remove information; 176 were based on copyright infringements, nine on trademarks issues and 33 were marked "other." It removed content related to 68 requests.

"We rejected many copyright takedown requests because they did not include the information required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)," it said.

While this may be Reddit's first transparency report, it is not alone. Many vendors and websites regularly receive requests for information on users and publish that information as part of a stadard policy. For example, since 2011, Google has pubished its Transparency Report.

Last year, Google received more than 21,000 requests from U.S. entities for user information. In 2014, Microsoft has also received 34,000 requests affecting more than 58,000 user accounts.

Reddit said it successfully fought back against two civil subpoenas, last year, that sought to unmask more than a dozen anonymous users.

"In most cases, we tell users before sharing private information in response to requests," Reddit said. "The only times we do not tell users are if a court order prohibits us or if there is a threat of imminent and serious bodily harm to a person.

"As part of our privacy commitment, we plan to report on these requests and our responses every year."

As of today, Reddit has never received a National Security Letter, an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or any other classified request for user information.

"If we ever receive such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed," it said.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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