Snapchat passed ‘about a dozen’ unopened messages onto US law enforcement agencies

Jordan O'Brien
October 15, 2013

Think those cheeky Snapchats are completely safe? Maybe not according to a new blog post from the company. According to Micah Schaffer, the person in charge of trust and safety issues at Snapchat, law enforcement agencies can gain access to some Snapchats with a suitable warrant — just like any other service.

Unlike other services though, as soon as that Snapchat has been viewed by the other user, it’s deleted from the Google-hosted cloud — meaning if a warrant is sent, there is no way of accessing that data.

According to the blog posting, the only Snapchats that are retrievable are those that are unopened as they can be manually fetched by the company, but there are only certain circumstances where this will be the case.

“Do we manually retrieve and look at snaps under ordinary circumstances? No,” writes Schaffer. “If we receive a search warrant from law enforcement for the contents of snaps and those snaps are still on our servers, a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) obliges us to produce the snaps to the requesting law enforcement agency.”

Whilst it’s not know the exact amount of requests Snapchat has had, Schaffer claimed that “about a dozen” warrants have been handed to the company since May 2013, a miniscule amount given there are 350 million snaps sent everyday.

If you’re worried that anyone from the Snapchat team can access your Snapchats at any time, then don’t worry — Schaffer claims that only two employees can access this data, himself and co-founder/CTO Bobby Murphy. But you want to think more before sending that potentially incriminating Snapchat again.

Via: The Verge

About the Author

Jordan O'Brien

Technology Journalist with an unhealthy obsession with trains and American TV. Attempts satire far too often. (+44) 020 7324 3502

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