Government Requesting Minimal Data From CloudFlare

CloudFlare claims government requests for user data are affecting fewer than .017 percent of their two million global customers

CloudFlare claims government requests for user data are affecting fewer than .017 percent of their two million global customers

The Web performance and security company yesterday issued the report in accordance with the Department of Justice’s new regulations for publishing information pertaining to law enforcement requests for user data. While the figure is necessarily a bit off – given that current law bars companies from including specific figures regarding domains affected by National Security Letters (NSLs) – the report suggests that the government has sought information on perhaps as many as 3400 of CloudFlare’s clients.

Their data reflect all requests as of December 31, 2013.

The company says it received 18 subpoenas last year, complying with only one of those requests. Another one request is still in process. The requests pertained to 17 separate domains but only affected one customer account.

CloudFlare says it pushed back on 16 subpoenas, all of which were rescinded. In some instances, the company claims court orders were issued in lieu of the original subpoena. In other cases, CloudFlare was simply not able to provide any information.

The company says it received 28 court orders, complying with 25 such orders. Two of the government requests remain in process. In total, court orders affected 227 domains under 38 customer accounts. For one of these court orders, CloudFlare was incapable of providing any information.

The company says it received three search warrant requests, one of which was eventually rescinded. They only ended up complying with one of the orders, though a second remains in process. The warrants affected four domains under one user account.

“In the rare instances where law enforcement has sought content such as abuse complaints or support communications, CloudFlare has insisted on a warrant for those electronic communications,” the company says. “To date, we have received no such warrants.”

The company received and complied with just one request for a pen register/trap and trace order that affected only one domain under one customer account.

In both 2012 and 2013, CloudFlare claims it received between 0-249 NSLs.

“Even assuming the high end of the range at 249 accounts affected,” the company wrote in its transparency report, “such national security orders would affect fewer than 0.02% of CloudFlare customer accounts.”

Under the new Justice Department rules, companies are allowed to report the reception of NSLs in batches of 250, starting with 0-249. In other words, no company is permitted to say that they received zero NSLs.

The company notes that the new rules are an improvement on the old ones, but “still consider[s] these new regulations to be an undue prior restraint on the freedom of speech.”

CloudFlare is also clear that has never turned over its SSL keys or its customers’ SSL keys to anyone; it’s never installed any law enforcement software or equipment anywhere on its network; it’s never terminated a customer or taken down content due to political pressure; nor has it ever provided any law enforcement organization a feed of its customers’ content transiting its network.

“If CloudFlare were asked to do any of the above,” the company claims, “we would exhaust all legal remedies, in order to protect its customers from what we believe are illegal or unconstitutional requests.”

CloudFlare’s report follows similar ones by AT&T, which received more than 2,000 NSLs, as well as Twitter, and various of the other tech giants, all of which seem to indicate that government requests for user data are on the rise.

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