By Aaron Kesel
Amazon’s fifth transparency report has revealed that the company provided more customer data to U.S. law enforcement in the first half of last year than in its history with a shocking 1,936 different requests between January and June 2017, ZDNet reported.
Of those 1,936 requests, Amazon complied and replied to 1,200 subpoena requests, 189 search warrants and 76 other court orders – for a whopping 1,465 requests they responded to. That’s 42 percent of all subpoenas, 44 percent of search warrants and 52 percent of other court orders.
That’s an incredible rise from the year prior where Amazon received:
- 1,618 subpoenas, which the company fully complied with 679 cases.
- 229 search warrants, which the company fully complied with 100 cases.
- 89 other court orders, which the company fully complied with 46 cases.
Amazon didn’t state why there was a spike in U.S. government requests during the first half of the year, but for a company that openly has a partnership with the CIA for $600 million for cloud servers, this information should be troubling. The oddest part of this data is the fact that Amazon stated they received no content removal orders. Which begs the question what merit were the cases based on if not illegal content?
The company also refused to state whether they had received a national security letter (NSL) during this time period. Tech companies are barred from disclosing the number of NSLs they receive; however, under their First Amendment they are free to say if they received any at all.
Amazon instead opted to say they had received between zero and 249 national security letters alluding that they had received a government request but they didn’t state whether they followed through with the request or not.
On Amazon’s website, one of the reasons the company states it may hand over its customers’ data can be based merely on contact lists.
Under certain circumstances, Amazon may request additional information from you to verify the identity of a contact in your address book.
It is not clear how many U.S. government requests last year were due to attempting to receive more information on an Amazon address book.
The transparency report also does not address whether authorities collected data via wiretapping Amazon’s speaker assistant Echo.
It is worth noting that Amazon, provided recordings belonging to a suspect in a murder trial last year which proves the Echo is constantly listening and is not just activated by a keyword as the company states.
Last year, the Internet watchdog rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Amazon a very low 2 stars in its “Who Has Your Back” ratings regarding how companies handle government data requests.
Image credit: LipTV