Today, we published LinkedIn’s Transparency Report for the second half of 2013. Like many other online services, from time to time, legal authorities will ask LinkedIn for information about our members’ online activities. In many cases, governments may need this information to investigate crimes.
At LinkedIn, we’re committed to earning and keeping your trust in everything we do, so we have a high bar when it comes to responding to government requests for member data. We only provide data when we believe that we’re legally required to do so, unless it’s a rare emergency situation, and we carefully scrutinize and evaluate each request. We take steps to let members know before we turn over their data, unless we’re legally prohibited from doing so or the request is an emergency.
Since 2011, we’ve published Transparency Reports on a semi-annual basis to help our members and the public understand the frequency and types of government requests we receive for member data. We believe that our members benefit from understanding the extent to which government authorities request member data from LinkedIn and that governments will act more justly when their activities are transparent.
Our current report shows that in the six-month period from July 2013 to December 2013, LinkedIn received 72 government requests for data affecting a total of 110 accounts around the world. 56 of those requests came from the United States. The number of accounts impacted by government requests for data thus represents an extremely small fraction of the 277 million LinkedIn members worldwide.
In September 2013, LinkedIn, along with other technology companies, filed legal challenges seeking the right to provide greater transparency into the number of national security-related requests we receive from the U.S. government. The resulting rule changes in January 2014 allow us, among other things, to disclose the numbers of U.S. National Security Letters (NSLs) and orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) we received in buckets of 250. As a result, LinkedIn and other technology companies have withdrawn their lawsuits. LinkedIn has updated all of our prior Transparency Reports to include revised U.S. national security-related requests for member data. From July 2013 to December 2013, we received between 0 and 249 national security-related requests, such as NSLs and FISA orders, which affected between 0 and 249 accounts. These ranges have remained consistent for all previous periods.
LinkedIn respects governments’ obligation to protect the safety of their citizens, and we believe that our advocacy for greater transparency about government requests does not impair their ability to meet that obligation. Rather, we believe that transparency promotes government accountability and we’ll continue advocating for the ability to provide transparency about the numbers and types of requests we receives from both the U.S. government and governments worldwide.