The new transparency report reveals a total of 55 government requests for user information in 2014. Reddit complied with 58 percent of that total, which included forking over account registration data, log data, and content uploaded by users. And U.S. state and federal government requests saw an even higher rate of compliance; 64 percent of inquiries resulted in user data being turned over.
Search warrants and subpoenas are the requests that divulge the most information about users, like IP address, the date that an account was created and email addresses.Though, Reddit notes, it only holds onto IP address information for 90 days. In the case of a warrant, Reddit may have to turn over private messages and data from posts or comments that have been deleted or hidden from view.
Still, even with such a high compliance rate, its total number of requests is barely on the map compared with other companies that publish transparency reports. For instance, Facebook received 34,946 data requests just in the first half of 2014. Meanwhile Twitter was served 2,058 government requests for the same period, 52 percent of which it resulted in disclosure of user information.
Reddit says that it disregards all requests that hold no legal weight and informs users before disclosing their information so they can seek legal representation — unless there’s a court order preventing them from doing so. Also worth noting, Reddit has never received requests from the National Security Agency or any other classified source.
Reddit’s transparency report also outlined requests for removal, of which there were 218. The large majority of inquiries were over copyright infringement.
Reddit removed just about a third of the posts that people requested be removed. And the company says that it hasn’t honored any requests for user-generated content to be taken down on account of potential defamation.
Overall the transparency report isn’t particularly compelling, if for no other reason than the low number of requests for user information. But it’s good that Reddit has jumped on the bandwagon to help bring government data requests to light.