Snapchat is handing your private messages to police

Since May of this year, about a dozen search warrants have resulted in the company turning over unopened pictures

Topics: the daily dot, Snapchat, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Micah Schaffer, , ,

Snapchat is handing your private messages to police
This article originally appeared on The Daily Dot.

The Daily Dot

The selling point of Snapchat is that potentially damning messages are destroyed almost instantly. But the company admitted this week that in the past its turned over about a dozen unopened messages to law enforcement.

In a recent blog post, Micah Schaffer, head of “trust and safety” at Snapchat, said that though messages are instantly deleted once they are opened by their intended recipient, the company is still able to retrieve unopened messages from its servers manually and look at them. The company does not do this regularly, according to Schaffer, unless extenuating circumstances come into play.

“Do we manually retrieve and look at Snaps under ordinary circumstances? No,” Schaffer writes.

You Might Also Like

He added, “So what is a circumstance when we might manually retrieve a Snap, assuming it is still unopened? 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.”

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Schaffer says that law enforcement officials can issue search warrants for Snapchat messages if they have reason to believe the messages are still contained on the servers.

Since May of this year, about a dozen search warrants have resulted in Snapchat turning over unopened messages. Schaffer tried to minimize the news by noting that’s out of 350 million snaps sent daily.

Only two people at Snapchat reportedly have the ability to access the tool used for manually retrieving messages, cofounder and CTO Bobby Murphy and Schaffer himself.

Obviously Snapchat is not the only tech company that has been legally required to turn over user information to the government, but the news definitively burst the bubble of anyone still harboring the delusion that snaps are 100-percent secure.

Since its rise to prominence, particularly among high school and college kids, Snapchat has been challenged in a number of ways about the security of its messaging service. There are claims that usernames and information aren’t properly secured. And there’s a recently developed app that allows recipients to save snaps permanently.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...