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Reddit reveals requests for user data by outside agencies

[SAN FRANCISCO] Reddit on Thursday issued its first transparency report, revealing numbers of requests for user data and bids to have content removed from the online messaging board.

"We regularly get requests from governments and law enforcement agencies for private information about our users or to remove content or subreddits; we occasionally get formal subpoenas and legal requests from individuals," Reddit said in a blog post.

"These requests are usually legitimate; we push back on any that we view as overbroad or unnecessarily invasive of privacy."

Last year, Reddit received 55 requests for user information involving a total of 78 accounts. Inquiries made with legal tools such as warrants or subpoenas targeted data about account registration and content that was uploaded.

Reddit doesn't collect a lot of information about users beyond email addresses, dates accounts are created, and Internet address numbers of computers connecting to the service.

Other than Internet addresses, or IP numbers, of computers used to open accounts, the information is only stored by Reddit for 90 days before being deleted, according to the online messaging board's team.

In contrast, Internet services run by titans such as Google or Facebook hold onto a broader range of user data for longer periods because information is used to target advertising on which they depend for revenue.

Google and Facebook are among the array of Internet firms that routinely issue transparency reports, and each company has disclosed requests for user data that have climbed into the tens of thousands.

Only five requests for information from Reddit came from outside the US, and the company refused to comply on jurisdiction grounds.

None of the efforts to get user data from Reddit came in the form of National Security letters that mandate secrecy, according to the report.

Reddit said that it provided information in response to slightly more than half the requests, and complied with 68 of the 218 requests for content to be removed last year for reasons such as copyright or trademark violations.

AFP