Coinbase Opens Up About User Information Requests

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  • A Coinbase Transparency Report has revealed that the exchange handled 1,914 customer information requests in the first half of 2020
  • Almost 97% were relating to criminal investigations
  • U.S. requests accounted for 58% of the total number

Coinbase has released a report that highlights the way in which they deal with information requests from governments worldwide. The cryptocurrency exchange’s first Transparency Report, published Friday, shows that authorities made almost 2,000 information requests during the first half of this year, almost 97%of which were criminal in nature. The U.S. led the way with over half of these requests, although Coinbase did reveal that they do sometimes “push back” if requests are too broad in scope.

American Users Account for 58% of all Requests

In the Transparency Report, Coinbase says that they routinely receive customer information and financial records in connection with “civil, criminal, or other investigative matters”, with most of the requests coming in the form of “subpoenas, but may also include search warrants, court orders, and other formal processes.”

The Transparency Report shows that, of the 1,914 records sought in H1 of this year, 1,113 of those were for American users (58%), more than double the second most requested country – the UK (441):

Coinbase Transparency Report 1

96.6% of the record requests were in respect to criminal investigations, with the FBI being the top information seeker in the US, accounting for 30% of all law enforcement information requests:

Coinbase Transparency Report 2

Coinbase Transparency Report 3

Coinbase says that each request is handled by a team of “experienced specialists” who have in the past tried to “push back where appropriate” to ensure that the request is valid and not “overly broad”.

This was evidenced in the notice sent to Coinbase UK customers two weeks ago in which the company revealed that they had managed to reduce the scope of an HMRC request from all 2017-19 user records to the information of those who received over £5,000 ($6,455) during the 2019/20 tax year only.

Coinbase to Dig Deeper in Future Reports

In the report, Coinbase is keen to remind worried users that it has 38 million customers worldwide, which means that these record requests account for only 0.005% of Coinbase’s customer base. The company finishes the report by stating that they aim to add “additional information, resources, and observations” to forthcoming Transparency Reports in order to improve the level of insight.