Reddit on Thursday published its first transparency report, joining the litany of technology and online service providers who have already shed light on their privacy practices, and the extent to which governments makes requests for user information.
Reddit thrives on user-submitted content organized by category, or subreddits. It has not been without controversy, however. Most recently in December, the site decided to ban a subreddit where stolen files from the Sony hack were stored and distributed. And last August, in the throes of the celebrity nude photo hacking scandal, several subreddits distributing and reposting the stolen images were shut down.
The transparency report released yesterday covers requests for user information and content removal received in 2014, the site said in its announcement. In addition, the site said it has never received a National Security Letter or an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under FISA.
“If we ever received such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed,” reddit said.
The numbers are relatively low. Reddit said it received 55 requests for user information, which includes log data and content uploaded by users, in addition to any personal information used to register with reddit. As for content removal, reddit said it received 218 such requests and complied 68 times (31 percent). Most of those removal requests were for copyright or trademark infringement.
Reddit said it complied with 58 percent of all government requests for user data, and with 64 percent of U.S. state and federal government requests. More than 90 percent of requests came from the United States in the form of subpoenas, warrants or emergency requests, reddit said.
Of the civil requests for user information, reddit said 30 percent of those were accompanied by a court order prohibiting them from notifying the users in question. The site said it won appeals of two civil subpoenas seeking data on more than two dozen users.
Of the 55 requests, 78 users accounts were named, 13 requests came with legally binding gag orders; in 32 cases, some information was disclosed.