In its first-ever transparency report, Reddit -- the "front page of the Internet" -- revealed that, unlike other companies like Google or Facebook, it has yet to receive a secretive National Security Letter (NSL) request for information from the federal government. Released Thursday, the report also showed that Reddit has so far received a lot less government scrutiny than some of its Internet cousins.
Between January and December of last year, Reddit received 55 requests for user information from either domestic or international agencies, according to the new transparency report. Compare that to the nearly 35,000 requests for data that Facebook received, or the 32,000 requests made to Google, during just the first six months of 2014.
No International Responses without U.S. Court OK
The 55 information requests made to Reddit last year included 29 federal subpoenas, eight federal search warrants, five requests from international organizations, seven "emergency" requests (usually connected to law enforcement) and six federal subpoenas. Reddit responded to 58 percent of those with some or all of the information requested.
Reddit turned over the most information -- 88 percent -- in response to U.S. search warrants. The company, though, provided no information in response to any international requests.
"Reddit is a U.S.-based company," the transparency report noted. "As such, we will not turn over user information in response to a formal request by a non-U.S. government unless a U.S. court requires it."
'We Actively Disregard Non-Binding Demands'
While the government requests for information served on Reddit don't come anywhere close to the the requests made to other Internet firms, the company has been a vocal advocate for surveillance reforms and an open Internet.
In June of 2013, Reddit joined dozens of other groups in signing an open letter to the U.S. Congress demanding an end to spying by the U.S. National Security Agency. Reddit has also come out strongly in favor of the Federal Communications Commission reclassifying the Internet as a utility-like service as a way to protect Net neutrality.
Reddit noted in its transparency report that if it ever did receive a National Security Letter, it would "seek to let the public know it existed." Many NSLs require that recipients do not publicly acknowledge they have received such requests, a demand that is currently being reviewed by a federal appeals court.
"Many government requests we receive contain demands to withhold notice from users that carry no legal weight. We actively disregard these non-binding demands," according to Reddit's transparency report. "Our goal is to give users the information they need to seek legal advice before their records are disclosed."