Reddit says government data requests more than doubled in 2018

Reddit has said the number of government requests for user data more than doubled in 2018 than on the previous year.

The news and content sharing site said in its latest transparency report, posted Wednesday, it received 752 requests from governments during the year, up from 310 requests a year earlier.

Broken down, that’s 171 requests to preserve account data — up from 79 requests in 2017, and 581 requests to produce user data — up from 231 requests.

Reddit said it complied with 77 percent of requests to turn over user data, and 91 percent of preservation requests. However, the company says it “only processes preservation requests” that originate in the U.S.

For the year, the company said it was asked by the U.S. government to remove “an image and a large volume of comments made underneath it for potential breach of a federal law,” without saying what the post was. But Reddit said it did not comply with the “overbroad” request as the government didn’t demonstrate illegality.

Noticeably absent from the transparency report are any figures relating to national security. There hasn’t been an update since 2016.

The company had posted a warrant canary in its debut 2014 report, confirming that at the time it had “never received a National Security Letter, an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or any other classified request for user information.” In its transparency report a year later, the notice was removed, indicating that Reddit had received a national security request but was permitted from disclosing it.

We contacted Reddit for comment but didn’t hear back at the time of writing.

Reddit, a platform known for its freedom of speech (sometimes infamously) has come under increased scrutiny by its users in recent days following a $300 million Series D investment from Chinese tech giant Tencent, prompting the mass posting of Winnie the Pooh, a symbol said to represent Chinese president Xi Jinping, as a protest against Beijing’s vast internet censorship.

In response to questions taken by users following the posting of its transparency report, Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman, who goes by the username u/spez, said: