Snapchat is currently in the process of cleaning up its reputation after it experienced the minor setback of having the usernames and passwords of 4 million users leaked. Now, they're trying to be a little more on the transparent side. 

The company has admitted that they've given law enforcement organizations users' unopened snaps. Snapchat says that once a snap is opened, it's automatically deleted from their servers. But, if a snap goes unopened, it waits there in limbo on their servers until someone finally opens it. In that time, if authorities have a search warrant, the company has to hand over the unopened snaps left on their servers, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Snapchat says that they've received about a dozen search warrants since May 2013 (but didn't say how many they've received since launching in 2011). This information came from Micah Schaffer, part of the company's Trust and Safety team, in a blog post he wrote this week. Check out a portion of it below.

For example, there are times when we, like other electronic communication service providers, are permitted and sometimes compelled by law to access and disclose information. For example, 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. For more information, see the section of our Privacy Policy that discusses circumstances when we may disclose information.

Since May 2013, about a dozen of the search warrants we’ve received have resulted in us producing unopened Snaps to law enforcement. That’s out of 350 million Snaps sent every day. 

Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps.

Only two people in the company currently have access to the tool used for manually retrieving unopened Snaps, our co-founder and CTO, Bobby (who coded it), and me.

[via Snapchat]

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