Write.as 2018 Transparency Report — In the open

By In the open

Write.as is a publishing platform built on preserving privacy and enabling free expression. Everything in our platform is built to back this up, from our policies to our infrastructure.

We collect as little personal data about you as possible and, as outlined in our privacy policy, we scrutinize every request for user data that we receive. We encourage compliance with legal procedural requirements, and will object to requests as appropriate.

Write.as has enabled 50,000+ people to publish over 250,000 posts since we first launched in 2015. But 2018 was the first year we received requests to have content removed from Write.as, or for user data. Now that these numbers are non-zero, we'd like to publish our first yearly transparency report, where we regularly share information about what requests we receive from governmental and non-governmental entities, and how we respond to those requests, so you can know exactly how your data is handled on Write.as.

Going forward, you can browse all annual transparency reports here: #TransparencyReport

In short, we received zero requests to disclose or preserve user data from any governmental or non-governmental entity in 2018. We received 1 user data request and 3 content removal requests from private parties.

Requests for User Data

While we're a platform built around minimal data collection, governments, corporations, and individuals may seek to gather any non-public identifying information we have about the writers on our service. We are very conscious of the potential for abuse by these actors, including entities seeking to de-anonymize writers and governments conducting dragnet surveillance. Thus we require certain legal conditions to be met before divulging user data.

In 2018, Write.as received one request for user data from a non-governmental, US-based entity. As the private entity cited merely “slanderous” content without any supporting evidence or formal legal demand, Write.as did not comply with the request.

Requests for Content Removal

In addition to guarding confidential user information, we want to ensure that speech is not removed by powerful governments, corporations, and individuals aiming to silence certain voices.

In 2018, Write.as received three requests to remove content from non-governmental entities, all from outside of the US. One request came from the Czech Republic and two came from Australia. All requests cited “defamation” or “slander” without supporting evidence or a legal ruling, and some cited non-US laws as reasons to remove the content. Some also claimed copyright infringement, but never filed a DMCA take-down notice upon receiving information on how to do so. In the end, Write.as did not comply with any requests to remove content.

#transparency #writeas