Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Sunday, 14 September 2014
US security agencies probed up to 249 Dropbox accounts
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Now Playing: Dropbox asked to hand over the keys to user account details Dropbox has revealed that it received up to 249 requests for informa
Topic: Privacy & Security
Dropbox asked to hand over the keys to user account details

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Dropbox has revealed that it received up to 249 requests for information on customer accounts from US national security authorities in its latest transparency report.

The report details all the requests made by US authorities between January and June 2014. Under US law Dropbox could not reveal the exact number of information requests made by national security agencies, only a vague range.

However, the report does also reveals that Dropbox had received 268 information requests from US law enforcement agencies, rather than national security agencies. This compromised 120 search warrants, 109 subpoenas, 37 requests relating to non-US accounts and two court orders.

In a blog post, Dropbox's Bart Volkmer explained that this number was a fraction of Dropbox's 300 million accounts, but the company takes each one seriously and challenges some requests. "We also push back in cases where agencies are seeking too much information or haven't followed the proper procedures," he said.

While the report detailed how many information and content requests Dropbox responded to, Volkmer explained that many US authorities try to prevent Dropbox from informing its users of such law enforcement probes, even when they have no legal right to gag the company.

"These types of clauses were attached to 80 percent of subpoenas we received in this reporting period," revealed Volkmer. "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."

Volkmer went on to explain how Dropbox is pushing for greater openness, better laws, and improved protection for its users' information.

The company hopes the USA Freedom Act of 2014 bill, currently in Congress, will succeed in reigning in the bulk data collection being carried out by US authorities, and allow companies to be more transparent about government data requests.

While the report detailed that the majority of requests were aimed at finding the identity and details of targeted account holders, it also highlighted that 14 search warrants and 16 subpoenas were made into accounts that did not exist.

This slightly comical situation raises the more serious question as to how effective such information-probing can be for US law enforcements, and if it is worth encroaching upon the privacy of people using online services.

Over the past year there has been a furore over information-probing and snooping by government authorities, notably the NSA and its infamous PRISM mass-surveillance campaign.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:12 AM PDT

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