Oath releases first transparency report

A cluster of clear lightbulbs.

By Julie Jacobs, General Counsel

At Oath, we're in the business of building trusted brands, and we believe that trust is built through transparency. Today we're releasing our first transparency report with information on requests we receive for user information and content removal, as well as how our brands respond. We're also committing to releasing transparency reports on a biannual basis.

As a global company with one billion users, we receive requests from governments for user data as part of law enforcement investigations, national security matters and in emergency situations. We also receive requests from governments to remove content. The privacy of our users and their ability to share and access information on our platforms is one of our highest priorities and we know that the way we handle these requests matters to them and to the public.

That's why we have an unwavering commitment to carefully scrutinize government requests for user data and content removal. We do this consistent with our Global Principles for Responding to Government Requests and the Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy established by the Global Network Initiative, of which we are a member. We regularly push back against improper requests for user data, including fighting requests that are unclear, improper, overbroad or unlawful.

Our first transparency report includes government requests for user data, content removal and Tumblr's copyright report from January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017. This report covers requests related to the various Oath brands, including Yahoo-branded properties, AOL, Flickr, and Tumblr. In this reporting period, we received a total of 13,316 data requests and 58 requests for content removal from governments worldwide.

In addition to this report we also recognize that there are other actions that can be taken on behalf of our users, their privacy and right to free expression online. Our Global Public Policy team advocates for public policy solutions that protect our users, including by advocating for surveillance reform consistent with the Reform Government Surveillance coalition's principles, working with partners to develop smart policies for the flow of data across borders, and supporting laws and regulations that protect our users' data and right to freedom of expression, as well as our platforms. In addition, Oath's Business & Human Rights Program coordinates and leads our efforts to make responsible decisions in the areas of free expression and privacy.

In today's environment, where technologies, laws, and policies are constantly evolving, providing transparency is one way that we can contribute to greater understanding of the impact of government actions and policies on privacy and access to information, as well as the role of companies in safeguarding these rights.