OnlyFollowers Reveals How Often Police Demand User Data (Sort Of)

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OnlyFollowers on Thursday launched its first transparency report, offering perception into the variety of occasions regulation enforcement businesses requested for details about its customers over the previous month. The report additionally particulars the variety of accounts suspended by the corporate in addition to the variety of accounts believed to have posted baby sexual abuse materials (CSAM), amongst different figures.

“Government agencies from around the world ask OnlyFans to disclose user information. We carefully review each request to make sure it satisfies laws of the relevant jurisdiction,” the corporate mentioned.

Within the United States alone, OnlyFollowers says it acquired no fewer than 67 requests for person info over the course of July; nonetheless, it’s unclear from the report what number of of these requests originate with regulation enforcement. It’s additionally unclear what number of requests had been granted.

According to the report, the “67″ figure pertains to the number of requests from “law enforcement agencies and charity helplines.” OnlyFans did not respond when asked to clarify why these two (very different) sources are combined.

In all other parts of the world, OnlyFans says it received only 31 such requests last month. Additionally, it disclosed having received a total of 783 requests over a 13-month period.

The information disclosed by OnlyFans may include basic subscriber information provided by users, but also their IP addresses and, more vaguely, “additional information OnlyFans may have access to.”

In the United States, at least, private conversations between users are protected under the Fourth Amendment; meaning authorities must demonstrate they have probable cause to believe a crime is being committed. An exception to this rule under the Stored Communications Act, however, enables law enforcement to use a subpoena to access such content, so long as it’s been stored for over 180 days.

Administrative subpoenas can be issued at the discretion of a law enforcement agency without a judge’s approval, often based solely on the claim that the information requested is relevant to a criminal investigation. A grand jury can also approve subpoenas on behalf of prosecutors. Internet companies the size of OnlyFans generally have specialized teams that work with law enforcement to facilitate these requests.

Metadata—the “who, when, and where” of a communication—is an example of data that can be obtained with a subpoena, (though a court order is required to obtain this information in real-time).

Certain law enforcement requests may arrive with a gag order, preventing a company from disclosing its existence to the subject targeted, or the public at large. Courts may require agencies to re-justify the application of a gag order periodically; usually every 180 days.

It’s an organization’s prerogative whether or not to problem authorities calls for for private information. In the final half of 2020, for instance, Twitter reported having rejected requests round 70 p.c of the time, although in some instances it merely requested police to supply a extra slim description of what’s being requested. (OnlyFollowers’ report doesn’t embrace such particulars.)

In the last month, OnlyFans said it deactivated 15 accounts for allegedly posting child sexual abuse material, or CSAM. Fourteen accounts were reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), a U.S. nonprofit established by Congress, which works closely with law enforcement.

“We invest heavily in fighting child sexual exploitation online and use technology to deter, detect, and remove CSAM from our platforms. This includes automated detection and human review, in addition to relying on reports submitted by our users and third parties such as NGOs, in order to detect, remove, and report CSAM on our platforms,” OnlyFans said.

An array of detect technologies are used by the company, it says, to detect CSAM, including hashes—unique alphanumeric strings used to identify specific photographs—and machine learning classifiers, which attempt to automatically locate CSAM that’s yet to be identified. CSAM hashes are also shared with NCMEC, allowing its researchers to locate other instances of the content being shared across the web.

Only a single CSAM hash was shared with NCMEC last month, OnlyFans said.

Below are a few other figures released by the company pertaining exclusively to July 2021:

  • DMCA requests to remove copyright-infringing content: 809
  • Trademark violation requests: 18
  • Accounts deactivated for breaking rules: 655
  • Posts removed for breaking rules: 72,761

“Laws around the world affect the availability of content on OnlyFans,” the company said.

Additionally, the company says it has fulfilled 80 requests from users in July who sought access to data about themselves under Europe’s privacy law, the GDPR.

In a shock announcement Thursday, OnlyFollowers says it’s going to soon enact new limits on the varieties of content material that may be posted by customers. While the flexibility to publish nude pictures and video won’t be affected, the corporate mentioned, as of October 1, “sexually explicit” content material will now not be allowed.

It’s unclear what the corporate means by “sexually explicit”—an OnlyFollowers spokesperson declined to remark presently—however it’s presumably focusing on overt sexual acts. In a report Friday, Axios disclosed that whereas the corporate has skilled stellar progress, it continues to wrestle to seek out traders resulting from its allowance of pornographic content material.

OnlyFans has generated $3.2 billions for its users since its inception, Axios said.

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