Dropbox released its latest transparency report this morning, covering the first half of 2014, and it came with some surprising figures. Over six months, the service got 268 user information requests from law enforcement and fewer than 250 National Security requests -- but what was most surprising was how many requests came with gag orders, questionably legal clauses that asked Dropbox to keep the request completely secret so as not to impede the investigation. According to Dropbox, 80 percent of the company's subpoenas came with clauses like the ones below.
Notably, both snippets describe the secrecy as a request rather than a legal order. Dropbox's stated policy is to notify users about data requests, and the company says they push back on any gag orders made without a court order. Many legal scholars view gag orders as unconstitutional, and companies have struggled against them through various channels. Often, simply refusing to honor the gag order is enough to convince law enforcement to withdraw it. Still, as Dropbox's latest report shows, the requests aren't going anywhere, and tech companies may be dealing with requests like this for a long time to come.
9/11/14 3:06 ET: Updated to include Dropbox's policy on gag orders.