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Automattic says spooks asked for something it can't reveal

'We are disclosing the maximum amount allowed by law' says WordPress developer

Automattic, the company behind content management and blogging platform WordPress, has complained that it can't reveal the full extent of state intelligence agencies' requests to probe users' accounts.

The company's new National Security report reports that the company's recorded zero “national security requests” in 2015's first six months. But the report then offers this observation:

For other periods, we don’t think the disclosures allowed by current Justice Department rules allow us to paint a truthful picture. Reporting National Security Requests in bands of 250 obfuscates rather than clarifies the volume of National Security Requests we and other small tech companies receive. While the disclosure regime may work well for larger companies with a high volume of requests, like the ones that worked with the Justice Department to craft these rules, they do not work well for smaller companies like Automattic.

The post goes on to say “By preventing us from sharing a more precise number of requests, the current disclosure rules diminish the trust that our users place in us and our services. For now, we are disclosing the maximum amount of information allowed by law.”

Automattic's unhappy with that so has joined the Twitter-initiated effort (PDF) to get the US attorney-general to change the rules in order to allow more detailed reporting of intelligence agency requests.

That effort could take years to resolve, so until it does it seems safest to assume that even though companies list small quantities of intelligence agency action, the reality may be rather different. ®

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