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Transparency report: Requests from authorities to Posteo have markedly decreased

Created at 03.February 2017, 16:30 | Category: Info

Dear Posteo users,

We would like you to know how often authorities request user information from us. We have therefore released our transparency report for the year 2016. In the report, we detail how often investigative authorities reached out to us in the year 2016 – and how often we actually had to release data. The report contains all requests from authorities that we received in the year 2016. In addition, we also list the number of illegal requests in our statistics, because in practice, grievances exist, which we have for a while now been documenting with blacked-out examples.

Number of requests from authorities to Posteo markedly decreased

The number of email accounts operated by Posteo increased during 2016 by about 40%, while the number of requests from authorities markedly decreased. Altogether we received 35 requests from authorities in 2016 – in 2015 there were 48.

For content data, the number of requests decreased by 50%. In 2015, authorities requested content data from us on eight occasions, while in 2016 only four requests reached us. The number of accounts affected by releases also decreased from five to three.

For traffic data, the number of requests decreased even more. There were six such requests in 2015 and two in 2016.

Only the number of requests for user information increased slightly, from 27 in 2015 to 28 in 2016. As we do not collect any user or traffic information for email accounts for reasons of data economy, this data does not exist at Posteo – and therefore can not be released. We always quickly inform the authorities making these requests of this fact. All requests that arrived came from German authorities. Among them – as was the case last year – there was one request from an intelligence service.

Number of illegal requests unchanged

Unfortunately, numerous requests continue to arrive with us that are not formally correct. In 2016, this was the case for half of all requests for user information. The proportion of illegal requests for user information has therefore remained practically the same in comparison to last year. In all these cases we made complaints to the respective privacy offers responsible.



A new format for our transparency report in 2017

Until now, we always published our transparency reports in the summer. The reason that the publication date occurred later in the year was that we added emphases to the content of the reports, which often involved intensive research. Many of you desired publication of the numbers at the beginning of the year. For this reason, our transparency report for 2017 takes a different form. We now want to always publish numbers on the requests from authorities at the beginning of the year.

A second change is that we will in future publish thematic emphases spread between our transparency report site and this blog, during the year. These could, for example, be legal opinions that we have obtained, grievances that we identify in practice, or successes that we would like to report.

We have decided on this new, more flexible format for transparency because it fits better with our practical work. In addition, we are more often experiencing that the particularly privacy-oriented nature of our service is new to some authorities and leads to discussion about content or decisions that set a precedent. We would like to inform you about this outside of pre-specified times.

Transparency reports should become more comparable

Posteo was in 2014 the first German telecommunications provider to publish a transparency report. In the meantime, numerous other providers also publish similar reports.

We believe that transparency reports strengthen the informational self-determination of users. We are therefore pleased about this development. We would like to note that for users, these reports only have real value if they take a form that is as comparable as possible – and when the numbers provided are complete.

We therefore insist that two pieces of information are provided in reports on all requests from authorities for different types of data. First, how many requests there were for specific data, e.g. user information or traffic data. And second, how often the data was released in response to the request. In our view, transparency will only be obtained by providing both of these.

You can find our transparency report here.

Best regards,

The Posteo team