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Dropbox clears up its transparency position

Something to see there
Wed Feb 12 2014, 16:03
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STORAGE OUTFIT Dropbox has released a transparency report that is more open than before, but less open than it would like.

Bart Volkmer, one of Dropbox's legal team introduced the report with a blog post, saying that it is pleased to be able to report information about the requests it gets from the government.

This has not always been the case, said Volkmer, but last month things changed, and companies were allowed to comment on the national security requests that come their way.

"Last month, the government changed its position and now allows services to disclose the number of national security requests they receive - in bands of 250. This is a step in the right direction," he said, adding that it is not a big enough step.

"As you'll see, we received 0-249 national security requests in the last twelve months. We wish we could be more specific, but that's all we can report right now. We'll continue to advocate for more transparency and keep you updated about our progress."

The issue with the sub-250 band is that it becomes meaningless when there are less than 250 requests to deal with. Dropbox's transparency report shows that it had less than 249 National Security requests affecting less than 249 accounts. Realistically, this tells us nothing.

"[The changes don't] go far enough, especially for services that receive only a handful of requests or none at all," added Volkmer. "We believe the public has a right to know the actual number of requests received and accounts affected, and we'll continue to push to be able to provide this information."

Last week Twitter made the most of the loosening of the rules, and released its first 'more open' transparency report. Like Dropbox, Twitter also bemoaned the lack of any real change in openness.

"We believe there are far less restrictive ways to permit discussion in this area while also respecting national security concerns," it said.

"Therefore, we have pressed the US Department of Justice to allow greater transparency, and proposed future disclosures concerning national security requests that would be more meaningful to Twitter's users. We are also considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights." µ


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