Dropbox Government Data Requests Rise Sharply

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The cloud storage provider has reported a rising number of data requests from law enforcement, as its user base grows

Dropbox has seen its number of law-enforcement data requests grow proportionally with its business, rising to 268 requests for the first half of 2014, the cloud storage company said in its latest transparency report.

The requests included 120 search warrants, 109 subpoenas, 37 requests from agencies outside the US and two court orders.

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Rising number of requests

None of the requests were directed at Dropbox for Business users, and only one requested content information, which the company didn’t provide.

Dropbox has about 300 million users, and said that “the rate of government data requests received per user remains steady”, rising from 367 requests for the whole of last year. This is the first time the company has issued a six-month report.

For the 120 search warrants, Dropbox said it produced user information and files in 103 instances. It notified users in less than one-half of those cases.

National security

Dropbox isn’t legally allowed to disclose an exact figure for requests made for national security purposes, and could only disclose that it received between 0 and 249 such requests. The company is participating with Microsoft, Google and others in advocating legal changes that would allow them to disclose more information in cases related to national security.

About 80 percent of the 109 subpoenas Dropbox received had gag orders attached, asking the company not to notify the users involved.

“Law enforcement agencies frequently ask us to keep requests secret even when they don’t have the legal right to do so,” said Dropbox legal counsel Bart Volkmer in a blog post. “Our policy is to notify users about requests for their information, so we push back in cases where an agency requests a gag order without the legal right.”

Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google and others also offer twice-yearly transparency reports.

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