Investing in and Expanding our Law Enforcement Operations

December 2, 2021

When we first launched this blog, we explained that one of our goals was to do a better job of talking to the many stakeholders who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our community -- parents and other family members, educators and mentors, safety advocates, and law enforcement.  In this post, we wanted to provide information about steps we’ve taken to facilitate better communications with the law enforcement community.

Law enforcement at every level are crucial partners in our efforts to combat illegal or harmful activity on our platform. As part of our ongoing work to keep our community safe, we have an in-house Law Enforcement Operations team dedicated to reviewing and responding to law enforcement requests for data related to their investigations. For example:

  • While content on Snapchat is ephemeral, designed to reflect the nature of real life conversations between friends, we have long offered law enforcement agencies the ability to, consistent with applicable laws, preserve available account information and content for law enforcement in response to valid legal requests. 

  • We have always proactively escalated to law enforcement authorities any content that could involve imminent threats to life. 

  • Once we have received a valid legal request for Snapchat account records, we respond in compliance with applicable laws and privacy requirements.

Over the past year, we have been investing in growing this team and continuing to improve their capabilities for timely responding to valid law enforcement requests. The team has expanded by 74%, with many new team members joining across all levels, including some from careers as prosecutors and law enforcement officials with experience in youth safety. As a result of these investments, we have been able to significantly improve our response times for law enforcement investigations by 85% year-over-year.  In the case of emergency disclosure requests -- some of the most critical requests, which involve the imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury -- our 24/7 team usually responds within 30 minutes. To learn more about the types of law enforcement requests Snap receives and the volume of requests, we publish a Transparency Report every six months to provide the public with these important insights. You can read our latest report, covering the first half of 2021, here

Recognizing that Snapchat is built differently than traditional social media platforms, and many members of law enforcement may not be as familiar with how our products work and what capabilities we have for supporting their work, one of our top priorities is to provide more -- and ongoing -- educational resources to help this community better learn how our services and processes work. We recently took two important steps forward as part of this larger focus.

First, we welcomed Rahul Gupta to serve as our first Head of Law Enforcement Outreach. Rahul joined Snap after a distinguished career as a local prosecutor in California, with an expertise in cybercrime, social media, and digital evidence. In this new role, Rahul will develop a global law enforcement outreach program to raise awareness about Snap’s policies for responding to legal data requests. He will also build relationships and seek regular feedback from law enforcement agencies as we continue to identify areas for improvement. 

Second, in October, we held our first-ever Snap Law Enforcement Summit to help build stronger connections and explain our services to U.S. law enforcement officials. More than 1,700 law enforcement officials from federal, state and local agencies participated. 

To help measure how useful our inaugural event was and identify areas for opportunity, we surveyed our attendees before and after the Summit. Prior to the Summit, we found that:

  • Only 27% of those surveyed were familiar with safety measures Snapchat had;

  • 88% wanted to learn what kind of data Snapchat can provide in support of their investigations; and

  • 72% wanted to know what the process is for how best to work with Snapchat.

After the Summit:

  • 86% of attendees said they have a better understanding of our work with law enforcement;

  • 85% said they had a better understanding of the process to submit legal requests for data; and

  • 78% would want to attend future Snap law enforcement summits.  

We are deeply grateful for all of those who attended, and in light of their feedback, are pleased to share that we will be making our Snap Law Enforcement Summit an annual event in the U.S. We are also planning to expand our outreach to law enforcement agencies in certain countries outside the U.S.

Our long-term goal is to have a world-class Law Enforcement Operations team -- and we know we have to continue to make meaningful improvements to get there. We hope our inaugural Summit was the start of an important dialogue with law enforcement stakeholders about how we can continue to build on the progress we’re seeing -- and help keep Snapchatters safe.

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