Reddit warrant canary disappears from transparency report

The popular link-sharing site is no longer prepared to say that it has never received a US National Security Letter.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Reddit's warrant canary is no more, after the site published its second transparency report without language denying the issuance of a National Security Letter.

"As of January 29, 2015, Reddit has never received a National Security Letter, an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or any other classified request for user information," the site's 2014 transparency report said. "If we ever receive such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed."

The section on national security requests was missing entirely in this year's report.

Reddit CEO Steve "spez" Huffman said the company is treading a fine line.

"I've been advised not to say anything one way or the other," he said. "The whole thing is icky."

Over the course of 2015, Reddit said it had seen an increase of 78 percent in the number of requests for user account information. During the year, it received 98 requests, and turned over data 60 percent of the time, affecting 142 accounts.

The US remained far and away the jurisdiction with the most requests, accounting for 77 requests. Ten US court orders had a 100 percent strike rate, with US subpoenas and search warrants successful in three out of four instances.

Besides the US, the only country that successfully received user account information thanks to legal mechanisms from Reddit was Canada, with a sole successful request.

Reddit said it also discloses information to law-enforcement agencies in emergency situations, where it says a "disclosure is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily harm to a person". Of these requests, data was handed over 41 percent of the time.

The company also said it blocked content to certain countries after receiving a content-removal request on 12 occasions.

A court order from Australia saw two posts on Reddit blocked from Australian IP addresses for defamatory reasons, nine posts blocked to Russian eyes due to drug information, and an entire sub-reddit blocked in Germany.

India filed 11 requests to block information that was claimed to be disturbing public order, but no action was taken.

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