Snapchat law enforcement guide


Snapchat is a smart phone application accessed through the iPhone AppStore or Google Play. The application provides a new way to share moments with photos and videos. The purpose of this guide is to familiarize law enforcement agencies with the categories of information available from Snapchat and the specific le8al process necessary to obtain that information.

Snapchat is committed to assisting law enforcement investigations to the fullest extent allowed by applicable law. In addition to this guide, Snapchat also provides phone and email support to law enforcement agencies for both emergency and non-emergency inquiries. Contact information for law enforcement support is listed on the cover of this guide.  

The primary set of laws governing Snapchat’s ability to disclose user information is found in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701, et seq. (“ECPA”). ECPA mandates that Snapchat may disclose certain user information to law enforcement only in response to specific types of legal process, including subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants. Generally speaking, ECPA permits the disclosure of basic user identity information, login information, and account content (definitions provided in Section IV of this guide) in response to legal process.

User records maintained by Snapchat and the process required to obtain these records

Snapchat stores the following information for each user:

• Email
• Phone number
• Usernarne
• A log of the last 200 snaps that have been sent and received (similar to a phone record)
• Date account was created

Snapchat does not store any image or video data as it is deleted immediately after the recipient views the image or video. If an image or video has not been viewed, it remains on the Snapchat server for 30 days, and then it is removed.

Please note: Snapchat is consistently updating with new features to improve the user’s experience and functionality of the site.

In order to release account records on a non-emergency basis, Snapchat requires proper legal process in order to provide records. The required legal process for this information is described below in detail.

In addition to including a Snapchat username, please also indicate if results must be returned before a specific date and where results should be returned. Snapchat accepts service via mail, email and fax and will produce documents in response to out-of-state domestic legal process such as subpoenas, court orders, emergency requests, consent letters, and search warrants.

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