Coinbase releases its first transparency report

Coinbase has just released its first-ever transparency report; the report provides insight into the number of requests for information that Coinbase receives as well as how they handle what they call “legitimate requests” from the government.

“As a financial institution with a duty to detect and prevent prohibited activity on its platform, we respect the legitimate interests of government authorities in pursuing bad actors who abuse others and our platform,” said Coinbase in their official announcement. “Yet we will not hesitate to push back where appropriate, even when it is inconvenient or costly to do so.”

Report findings

From Jan 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, Coinbase received a total of 1,914 government requests for customer data; 1,848 of those requests were in relation to criminal investigations and 66 of those requests were in relation to civil or administrative investigations. 90% of all requests come from three countries: the USA, the U.K, and Germany, with the United States accounting for the lion’s share with 58% of all requests coming from government agencies located in the USA.

Of the agencies in the United States, the FBI,  Homeland Security Investigations, and the DEA filed the most requests for information, filing 340, 184, and 104 requests, respectively.

The request for transparency

What may have prompted Coinbase to release a transparency report is that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called-out Coinbase in its September article, “It’s Past Time for Coinbase to Issue Transparency Reports” for their lack of transparency. 

The EFF article argues that “Transparency reports are important tools for accountability for companies that make these important decisions,” and points out that Coinbase competitor Kraken recognized the importance of publishing transparency reports and has been doing so for a while now.

The EFF article was published on September 2nd, roughly one month before Coinbase published its very first transparency report.

Coinbase says they will continue to release transparency reports on a regular basis.

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