Our updated disclosure - February 3, 2014
In September 2013, LinkedIn filed legal challenges seeking the ability to provide greater transparency into the number of national security-related requests we receive from the U.S. government. And last December we released, along with other technology companies, government surveillance reform principles that highlight government request transparency as a key part of necessary reform.
In response to the legal challenges and advocacy of LinkedIn and other technology companies, the U.S. government officially changed its policy regarding the reporting of national security-related requests on January 27, 2014. We are now updating our previously-released Transparency Report to reflect the new reporting policy.
The new policy gives companies two reporting options - one that presents information in ranges of 1,000, and the second that presents information in ranges of 250. We have chosen the second option, which requires us to aggregate national security-related requests disclosures - National Security Letters (NSLs) and requests under the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) - and to present the numbers in ranges of 250. We did so because we believe that this option gives our members and the public a more accurate picture of the number of national security-related requests we receive and the number of accounts impacted, even though this option requires us to aggregate national security-related requests.
As you can see in more detail below, we have received between 0 and 249 national security-related requests, impacting between 0 and 249 accounts, for the time period between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013.
What statistics do you have about government requests for information about members?
At LinkedIn, our members come first. Consistent with this core value, we are deeply committed to acting in a manner that is transparent to our members and to the public. This is why we issue a Transparency Report twice a year with additional updates when, as happened on January 27, the rules governing our Transparency Report change in a significant way.
The Transparency Report provides information about the numbers and types of government requests for data that we receive, as well as our responses. (Here is a link to our Transparency Reports covering periods prior to the first half of 2013.) Our commitment to transparency is also the reason why, when we receive requests for member data, we attempt to notify the affected member of the request, including providing a copy of the legal process, prior to releasing the information to the government (so the member has an opportunity to object), unless we are prohibited from doing so by the law or under emergency circumstances.
Similar to other technology companies, LinkedIn receives requests from governments around the world for member data. There can be many reasons that a government would request data. For example, a federal or state officer such as an FBI agent or police detective may be investigating a crime and is seeking information and evidence that could be helpful in identifying or locating the perpetrators, or bringing them to justice. For the six-month period between January 1 and June 30, 2013, LinkedIn received, on a global basis, government requests for data for less than .00005% (half of one ten-thousandth of a percent) of LinkedIn's member accounts.
Most countries have laws that govern how such data can be requested. Since LinkedIn's headquarters are located in Mountain View, California, the vast majority of government data requests we receive originate from the U.S. government. In the U.S., there are numerous forms of legal process that can be used to request information, both at the federal and state levels. These include processes such as subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, national security letters, and FISA orders. Each form of legal process is issued subject to differing standards and each requires the production of different types of data.
We believe at LinkedIn that the patchwork of laws governing government requests in the U.S. is overly complicated, is inconsistent, and has not kept up with technological advances. LinkedIn strongly believes that all data, whether analog or digital, whether stored on personal computers or in the cloud, is subject to full Fourth Amendment protection, no less than documents stored in a file cabinet or in a desk drawer. This is why LinkedIn actively supports the Digital Due Process Coalition and proposed reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
With regard to requests originating from outside of the U.S., before providing data, we require the request to be properly issued through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or a letter rogatory. Both of these processes require the request to be reviewed by a U.S. federal court and, therefore, undergo scrutiny for consistency with U.S. laws and the Constitution.
For more information regarding the legal process law enforcement officials must follow to obtain data regarding member accounts, please see our Law Enforcement Guidelines.
We have tried to make our Transparency Report as easily digestible as possible. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you again for placing your trust in LinkedIn. We value you as a member of the LinkedIn community.
January 2013 through June 2013
|Government Requests for Member Data||Accounts Impacted||Percentage of Requests to which LI Provided Data|
Types of U.S. Government Requests
|Gov't Requests for Member Data1||70|
|% of Requests to which LI Provided Data||57%|
|% Search Warrants3||8%|
|% Court Orders4||1%|
|National Security Requests (# received)6||0 - 249|
|National Security Requests (accts impacted)6||0 - 249|
- Government Requests for Member Data include all requests received by LinkedIn from the U.S. government except for national security-related requests, such as National Security Letters and requests under the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), if any.
- Subpoenas may be issued for information that is reasonably relevant to the general subject matter of a pending investigation. They are typically pre-signed by a court clerk and are issued by prosecutors without the involvement of a judge.
- Search warrants require the government to demonstrate "probable cause" and are generally issued by a judge. The standard applicable to a search warrant is higher than that applicable to a subpoena.
- Court orders vary depending on the circumstances and the issuing Court and jurisdiction. Many of the Court orders LinkedIn receives are issued pursuant to 18 USC § 2703(d), a provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). To obtain such an order, the government must demonstrate specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the information sought is relevant and material to an ongoing investigation. This standard is higher than that applicable to subpoenas but lower than that applicable to search warrants.
- The "Other" category includes requests that do not fall within any of the above categories. Examples include emergency requests. As indicated in footnote 1, the category does not include national security-related requests.
- National Security Requests may include NSLs and FISA orders. There are two "National Security Requests" categories - one for requests received and one for accounts impacted. Pursuant to a new policy announced by the U.S. government on January 27, 2014, the number of such requests must be reported in the aggregate and in ranges of 0 to 249, 250 to 500, and so forth. The information provided here means that LinkedIn received between 0 and 249 national security-related requests, impacting between 0 and 249 accounts, for the time period between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013.