Amazon quietly publishes its latest transparency report

Just as Amazon was basking in the news of a massive earnings win, the tech giant quietly published — as it always does — its latest transparency report, revealing a slight dip in the number of government demands for user data.

It’s a rarely seen decline in the number of demands received by a tech company during a year where almost every other tech giant — including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter — all saw an increase in the number of demands they receive. Only Apple reported a decline in the number of demands it received.

Amazon said it received 1,841 subpoenas, 440 search warrants and 114 other court orders for user data — such as its Echo and Fire devices — during the six-month period ending 2019.

That’s about a 4% decline on the first six months of the year.

The company’s cloud unit, Amazon Web Services, also saw a decline in the number of demands for data stored by customers, down by about 10%.

Amazon also said it received between 0 and 249 national security requests for both its consumer and cloud services (rules set out by the Justice Department only allow tech and telecom companies to report in ranges).

At the time of writing, Amazon has not yet updated its law enforcement requests page to list the latest report.

Amazon’s biannual transparency report is one of the lightest reads of any company’s figures across the tech industry. We previously reported on how Amazon’s transparency reports have purposefully become more vague over the years rather than clearer — bucking the industry trend. At just three pages, the company spends most of it explaining how it responds to each kind of legal demand rather than expanding on the numbers themselves.

The company’s Ring smart camera division, which has faced heavy criticism for its poor security practices and its cozy relationship with law enforcement, still hasn’t released its own data demand figures.