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No one organizes any crime on Slack, apparently

TechCrunch TechCrunch 4/05/2016 Kate Conger

Following the lead of other major tech companies, Slack released its second annual transparency report today, revealing that it has received a grand total of one government request for user data. Just one.

The number is somewhat remarkable when compared with the rest of the industry. Facebook recently announced that it received 19,235 requests from U.S. agencies over a six-month period. Google disclosed 12,002 requests for user data from the U.S. in its most recent transparency report. Even Uber fielded some law enforcement requests for its users’ data — 469 requests in six months. But the single-digit transparency report isn’t unusual for Slack: last year, in its first-ever transparency report, Slack revealed that it had received zero government requests.

Of course, Facebook, Google, and Uber all serve far more people than Slack does — but Slack, which hosts 2.7 million users, is no slouch.

When asked why their numbers (or number, really) might be so low, a representative for Slack told TechCrunch that the company hasn’t done an analysis on the number of requests received so it couldn’t be sure what a standard number might be.

“We think the number may be low because Slack is a relatively young company,” the representative added.

So maybe law enforcement just hasn’t noticed Slack exists, yet. Or maybe the kind of crime being facilitated on Slack — because, realistically, someone has to have used one of the most popular organization tools on the market to organize a crime by now — isn’t drawing significant law enforcement attention.

But, as Slack’s userbase continues to grow, its likely that law enforcement interest in obtaining Slack messages will as well. Slack has added 500,000 users since February alone. And Slack messages are a tempting target for law enforcement. As WhatsApp, iMessage, and other chat services debut end-to-end encryption that limits access to message data, Slack messages are encrypted only in transit.

Slack isn’t eager to hand over data to government agencies, though. “In releasing this report, we want to reiterate our position of opposing government-mandated ‘backdoors,’ especially any government demands for access to user data that would compromise our users’ security,” Slack said in a blog post announcing the transparency report. The company also announced that it had not provided any data in response to its single request.

And, even if you are using Slack to chat about how to rob a bank or pull off a ransomware attack, Slack isn’t peeking over your shoulder to monitor that content. “As a business tool, Slack leaves administration of the team to account owners and does not proactively screen content,” a representative said.

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