Dropbox Outlines Its Principles For Handling Government Data Requests

Joining other leading technology firms, Dropbox today detailed the number of national security requests it received in the preceding 12 months for user data of its customers: 0-249.

While Dropbox applauded the recent legal change that allows it to disclose that number in increments of 250, it stated in a blog post today that the now allowed for reporting is still too vague. This, it decried, is especially true of company that “receive only a handful of requests or none at all.” The implication here, only obfuscated in the legal sense, is that Dropbox receives very few national security requests, and is irked that it has to report, in essence, ‘no more than 250’ when the actual number is likely far lower.

Yahoo, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Microsoft have also released data regarding the government’s requests for their user date.

Dropbox, in addition to the release of its modest number of non-law-enforcement requests for data, published a set of what it describes as “principles” regarding how it will handle government data requests. The company intends to contest for the ability to disclose more information regarding government requests, treat all users the same, regardless of their location, and fend off so-called “blanket requests” for data.

The takeaway from the above is that technology companies were willing to go to court to fight for more transparency, won, but are yet to be satisfied with the larger regulatory framework that guides the intersection of technology and government. Google this morning, by way of one example, published a plea for increased reform, citing specifically the woefully outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act which in its current form provides little to no security to the email content of private citizens.

Today marks a timed wave of protests under the banner “The Day We Fight Back,” which Mozilla and other technology companies and privacy groups have commended. While the public remains mixed in its view regarding the NSA, the issue of surveillance, and where to draw the line — allowing the false dichotomy for the moment — between privacy and security, the technology industry is increasingly in-step: The government has gone too far, and the status quo is unacceptable.

It’s almost enough to make you hopeful.¬†