The Australian government is very keen to get hold of your metadata, but it’s apparently less keen to go through the legal processes required to gain access to your Dropbox files and information. In the second half of 2014, just one request from Australia was received by Dropbox.
Like many online providers, Dropbox produces a biannual transparency report detailing the number of requests it received from governments (typically via a warrant or other court process) for user information or account content. The July-December 2014 report is the first to list the countries from outside the US which made requests (previously, only a global total was provided).
Just one request was received from Australia during that time. Apparently it was unsuccessful; of the 20 non-US requests received, none resulted in the actual release of information. Dropbox sets a fairly high barrier for those requests: “At this time, we require non-US governments to follow the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process or letters rogatory process so that a US court will issue the required US legal process to Dropbox.”
Dropbox says it will always notify users if their account is the subject of a legal request, though apparently government agencies would prefer that not to happen. “Governments continue to request that we not notify users of requests for their data, even when there is no legal basis for the requests,” the report noted. “We received 71 such requests between July and December 2014 and responded by informing the requesting agency of our policy to always provide notice unless prohibited by a valid court order (or equivalent).” We don’t know if the Australian request was one of those 71.
There was far more investigative activity in the US than anywhere else, where 137 search warrants, 116 subpoenas and 2 court orders were received. In terms of international activity, France and Germany topped the rankings with five requests each.