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AOL Transparency Report

Feb 13, 2014

AOL is committed to protecting our users' privacy and to providing our users with as much information as possible about the demands for user data that AOL receives from governments and law enforcement. We recognize that the U.S. Government has an obligation to keep its citizens secure, but believe that this goal can be achieved while allowing transparency about government demands for user information. On January 27, the U.S. Government announced that it was relaxing its restrictions on the information that technology companies can provide to their customers about U.S. national security demands they receive. In response to this new policy, we are pleased to be able to release additional information relating to U.S. Government demands for AOL customer data that gives our users a more complete picture of these demands.

Specifically, the Government has agreed to new reporting guidelines about two types of legal demands that technology companies receive in national security cases: (i) legal orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); and (ii) National Security Letters (NSLs), which are issued by the FBI and seek only non-content user information (more information about the Government's reporting guidelines is available here). Disclosures of these demands can be reported in bands of a thousand, starting with the band from 0-999, with a six-month delay for FISA information. The Government also requires us to delay by two years reporting on certain FISA demands received for new platforms, products, or services. Therefore, we cannot include in the below information the number of demands (if any) that might fall into this category.

The following tables detail the number of demands for data we have received from government authorities. The first table includes information on the FISA orders that AOL has received for non-content and content information. The second table provides information on the NSLs that AOL has received. The third table provides information on the legal demands that AOL has received from federal, state, and local authorities in criminal investigations (outside of the national security context). It is important to note that for this reporting period, AOL tracked only the number of demands we received, not the number of demands AOL actually responded to. AOL vigorously contests on behalf of our users any demands that we believe are ambiguous or legally defective.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") Orders


Reporting Period Number Received Number of Accounts Affected
Non-Content Orders
July to December 2013 Reporting subject to six-month delay
January to June 2013 0-999 0-999
July to December 2012 0-999 0-999
January to June 2012 0-999 0-999
July to December 2011 0-999 0-999
January to June 2011 0-999 0-999
Content Orders
July to December 2013 Reporting subject to six-month delay
January to June 2013 0-999 0-999
July to December 2012 0-999 0-999
January to June 2012 0-999 0-999
July to December 2011 0-999 0-999
January to June 2011 0-999 0-999
National Security Letters ("NSLs")


Reporting Period Number Received Number of Accounts Affected
July to December 2013 0-999 0-999
January to June 2013 0-999 0-999
July to December 2012 0-999 0-999
January to June 2012 0-999 0-999
July to December 2011 0-999 0-999
January to June 2011 0-999 0-999
U.S. Federal, State, and Local Government Criminal Demands for User Data


Reporting Period Number Received Number of Accounts Affected
Demands for Non-Content Information
January to December 2013 3,260 7,495
January to December 2012 3,430 8.181
January to December 2011 3,841 11,277
Demands for Content Information
January to December 2013 632 947
January to December 2012 556 840
January to December 2011 543 892

The data clearly show that these demands for user data have impacted less than one hundredth of one percent of accounts. In addition, the number of accounts may not equal the number of individuals impacted, as users may have multiple accounts that are the subject of such demands.

AOL is pleased to be able to provide this information to our users; we are permitted to release data concerning FISA orders every six months, and we will continue to release transparency reports in accordance with this time frame.

AOL's ability to release this data is a positive step in the ongoing public debate about security, transparency, and government surveillance. AOL will continue to advocate for meaningful reform on these issues, as reflected in the principles we announced together with other technology companies in December 2013, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress on additional reforms that will ensure the privacy and security of our users.