We really have to commend Automattic, the original developers of WordPress, for stepping up and providing a transparency report on the volume of international government takedown demands, information requests and other intrusions. The text below, written by Jenny Zhu and originally published in WordPress’ own blog introduces the report. To read the report itself, click here.
Automattic’s mission is to democratize publishing, and a fully informed citizenry is the foundation of any functioning democracy. Keeping our users and the public fully informed about our policies on responding to government requests has always been important to us — and now, more than ever, candor in this area is vitally important.
In keeping with these principles, we’re pleased to release our firsttransparency report. This initial report summarizes the number of government information requests, takedown demands, and national security requests that we received during the second half of 2013. In addition to giving our users full transparency about the volume of these requests, we also hope that publicly reporting our data will help hold all parties (including us) accountable.
A few highlights of our report:
Information Requests. For the second half of 2013, approximately 0.0001% of the 48 million sites that we host were subject to a government information request. Our policy is to notify you of any information request we receive regarding your account, so that you may challenge the request. The only exception is if we are prohibited by law (not just asked nicely by the police) from making such a notification. We also carefully review all legal requests we receive and actively push back on those that are procedurally deficient, overly-broad, or otherwise improper (i.e., those that target non-criminal free speech). In other words, we’ve got your back.
Takedown Demands. Just as importantly, our transparency report includes takedown requests we received from governments around the world. Governments sometimes seek to remove WordPress.com posts that they deem to be prohibited by local laws, such as posts that they judge as defamatory or those that discuss illegal subject matter. We aim to promote freedom of expression around the world, and are also mindful of local laws that might impact that expression. When we receive an order to remove content, we may remove it in only those jurisdictions where it violates local law.
National Security. We’re reporting the maximum amount of information allowed by law about the number and types of National Security Requests that we received. The disclosures we’re currently allowed to make are limited, and unfortunately, we’re not permitted to paint a more truthful picture.
We’ll update this report every six months so that we can compare the volume of requests we receive over time. In future reports, we’ll include information about the volume of copyright takedown requests we receive and process under the DMCA. We’ll also update you on the actions we’re taking on the internet, in the courts, and in Congress, to defend our users and promote a free and open internet. So stay tuned to the “News” tab of the report!
Share and Share Alike
Like all of our policy documentation, our transparency report is released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license (CC BY-SA 2.0) so that other sites can use and build on our work if they’d like.
We hope this report is useful to our users and that its data adds to the important public debate about the proper role of government in monitoring and policing activity on the modern internet.
Check out the full transparency report here.