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“VKontakte” revealed the policy of working with government agencies. But not the statistics of user data requests

The social network promised transparency, but did not publish any figures.

In the “VKontakte” there was an information section on how the company works with the personal data of users and what requests the authorities respond to.

Vkontakte never announced the appearance of a new section. Usually, such updates are reported in the official communities of the company, for example, the VKontakte Team public .

The section was launched two months after the scandal due to the initiation of criminal cases for extremism and insulting the feelings of believers. Mail.Ru Group, which owns VKontakte, advocated an amnesty for those convicted of reposting and decriminalizing social network entries.

Since August, the managing director of the social network, Andrei Rogozov, has promised to talk about working with personal data and said that the process will become “as transparent as possible.” Representatives of VKontakte told the BBC about plans to disclose the statistics of government requests and confirmed this information to.

What did “VKontakte” say about?

  • What are the principles of information security: why does VKontakte collect information from users and why it advocates the protection of Internet users;
  • What information does VKontakte collect: location, registration data (name, surname, date of birth, gender, mobile number and e-mail address), support requests, data from the profile description, history of visits, history of publications and subscriptions, personal messages, payment data, media files marked by the user, information that the user is someone’s contact;
  • “VKontakte”, among other things, told what information about the messages it collects: the names of senders and recipients, the date and time of communication, the number and text of messages, and attachments ;
  • To whom the social network transfers data: to government agencies, application developers, other users, advertisers and other service providers;
  • How the processing of requests is arranged: which authorities apply to VKontakte for information, what laws does the social network comply with and why it does not notify users of the interest from the authorities.

What is the section devoted to working with government agencies?

The third section is the most important in the entire report. VKontakte described in detail how the process of communication with investigators is going on.

  • VKontakte follows the laws of the Russian Federation, in particular, “On Operational Investigation Activities”, by which it helps state agencies search for information about criminals. Roskomnadzor, FAS, courts and law enforcement agencies, including the UK, the FSB and the police, can turn to it;
  • VKontakte assures that it checks all official requests of the authorities for compliance with the law, as well as that it does not issue personal messages to users without a court decision. For example, at the end of September, she issued the correspondence of a St. Petersburger;
  • VKontakte says it does not have the right to warn users about the requests of the authorities , again referring to the law “On operational investigative activities.” “When it comes to potentially dangerous crimes, the notification can greatly complicate the investigation,” the social network said;
  • VKontakte explains that the refusal to cooperate with the state bodies of the company faces criminal liability and large fines. The social network refers to the laws “On the Police” and “On the Operational-Search Activity”, under which it is obliged to provide information upon a court inquiry from an opened case.

What is not in the VKontakte section – unlike Google, Apple and Facebook reports

As a result, the section of the Russian social network did not become an analogue of the “Transparency Report” (usual for Western companies).

Transparency report released including Apple , Google , Twitter , Facebook and Microsoft . Such reports provide information on the number of government requests, for example, asking to remove content or provide information about users. Sections are regularly updated and are in the public domain.

In “VKontakte” did not appear on the specific number of requests.

The report does not indicate the departments that asked the social network to provide information – for example, such could be Roskomnadzor and the FSB. The company could also clarify what exactly the state bodies demanded, say, the inclusion of a page in the register of prohibited data or information about a specific user. At the same time, I would like to see how often VKontakte approves or rejects requests.

The most recent Russian example is Habr, which in September published query statistics for the period 2013–2018. According to Roskomsvoboda, the administration of the collective IT community made it the first among Russian companies.

The press service of “VKontakte” explained to that the social network takes more time to collect statistics on user data requests. However, the social networks did not specify when it is planned to publish this information.

We are in the process of collecting information – the manual processing and structuring of all requests and the preparation of data for publication takes a long time. But we consider as the first priority the real solution of the problem and the prevention of such cases. To do this, we are taking the necessary legal steps and food measures.

VKontakte press service
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