Dropbox's Transparency Report Is Out: 8 out of 10 Requests Contain a Gagging Clause

Dropbox are one of the most popular cloud storage solutions available today, offering users a range of plans from the free basic plan, starting with 2 GB of online storage, to a premium option offering 1 TB for £8 a month together with an enterprise solution at £11 per user, per month. However, in addition to paying for extra storage, there's also a referral process whereby if a user recommends the Dropbox service to another person and he or she signs up, you benefit from either 512 MB or 1 GB of additional storage depending on your account. Standard users can gain another 16 GB this way whereas Pro users can gain another 32 GB of storage. Furthermore, several Android manufacturers have also offered free Dropbox storage with certain handsets, such as Samsung offered additional space for a period of time (when I bought the Samsung Galaxy S III I benefited from an additional 50 GB of Dropbox storage for two years). The service integrates with many platforms, applications and in the case of Android, services such as Samsung TouchWiz and HTC Sense. The Android application includes an automatic picture file upload service and file sharing services. Files are encrypted using industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption and two-step verification.

This morning, Dropbox announced via a Blog post how many surveillance requests they received from law enforcement agencies and national security requests. Out of 300 million users and from the start of the year to June, Dropbox received 268 for user information from law enforcement agencies and between 0 to 249 requests concerning national security. Dropbox have been regularly disclosing these requests annually as part of their Transparency Report but also announced today that they will be releasing this information every six months from now onwards. In their blog, they explain that whilst they take all such requests seriously, they also scrutinise them carefully to make sure they satisfy legal requirements before complying. Dropbox are not afraid of pushing back on requests where the agencies are seeking too much information or have not followed proper procedures.

A key part of pushing back is that Dropbox's policy is to inform users of any such requests. Their blog post explained that 80% of these requests contained a clause whereby the law enforcement agency requested (rather than ordered) Dropbox do not inform the user; Dropbox push back on the agency unless they have the correct legal right. They also explain that they will continue to push for greater openness, better laws and protection for users' information. This is admirable and perfectly sensible: ultimately, their business is of course safeguarding our business and maintaining trust in the organisation. Do you use Dropbox? Have you used it in the past and perhaps continue to use it in conjunction with another service? Hit us up and let us know in the comments below or via our Google+ page.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.