Introducing Meetup’s Inaugural Transparency Report

As a platform that brings people together to do what matters most to them, Meetup is entrusted with a lot of data, including the content and information generated by our members.

Like most online service providers, occasionally we receive orders or requests impacting our members, such as government requests for information and intellectual property claims.

We value our members’ trust and we take our legal obligations seriously. We have developed procedures to ensure that we handle these requests and orders fairly and with proper consideration for member privacy.

We have chosen to publish this Transparency Report to give our members, as well as the broader public, visibility into how Meetup responds when faced with these decisions.

With rising levels of civic participation and public concern about challenges to democratic ideals, we hope that this transparency report will serve to strengthen our members’ trust, and provide everyone with useful information about this important topic.

Data Requests

When we receive a government request for information regarding a member, we seek to protect the privacy of our members and comply with the law.

During 2016, Meetup received nine subpoenas. Of the subpoenas received, four were sent by U.S.-based government entities and five were sent by civil litigants. These nine subpoenas involved a total of eight member accounts.

  • In two-thirds of these cases, we notified the member(s) potentially affected by the subpoena.  No notice was sent in the remaining one-third of cases, for various reasons, such as if the subpoena did not appropriately identify a member or if a non-disclosure order was included.
  • Nearly half of subpoenas we rejected for various reasons, including when the subpoena was defective. We responded to the other subpoenas by providing the legally appropriate information.
  • A government entity based outside the U.S. sent Meetup a request potentially affecting one member account. We responded by providing non-content.

In addition to the subpoenas discussed above, we received numerous informal requests that were made not pursuant to a subpoena, a court order, a search warrant, or any other judicial process. We declined to disclose information in response to these requests.

We received no search warrants, wiretap orders, pen register/trap and trace orders, or emergency requests. We also received one preservation request that did not apply to a valid account.

Governments sometimes request information, usually related to national security, in a way that restricts a service provider such as Meetup from indicating that it has received such a request. These requests include National Security Letters and orders from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. As of the date of this report, Meetup has not received any such national security requests or orders for user information.

Intellectual Property Claims

When we receive an IP claim, it is our general policy to notify the member who posted the allegedly infringing material. No notice is sent to the member who posted the material at issue in the cases we reject, such as when the claim does not follow the procedures described in our Intellectual Property Dispute Policies.

During 2016, Meetup processed 73 claims of IP infringement, consisting of 35 trademark claims and 38 copyright claims.

  • These claims involved a total of 62 Meetup groups and 20 events.
  • In over one-third of cases we simply relayed the IP claim to the member who posted the material. In about one-half of cases we responded by removing or disabling access to some or all of the allegedly infringing material. For the other cases we rejected the IP claim.

Full Report

We hope that this transparency report helps you understand the kinds of data requests and IP claims we receive, as well as how we respond to them. Additional detail is included the charts and glossary below. We encourage you to learn more about these topics by reviewing our Privacy Policy and Intellectual Property Dispute Policies.

United States Requests

Types of Legal Process Received

Subpoenas TOTAL
Gov’t Civil
# of Requests Received 4 5 9
# of Accounts Potentially Affected 3 5 8

User Notification (Pre-Disclosure)

Requests with Non-Disclosure Orders No Non-Disclosure Order, Notice was Provided No Non-Disclosure Order, Notice was not Provided* TOTAL
# of Gov’t Requests Received 1 2 1 4
# of Civil Requests Received 0 4 1 5
# of Total Requests Received 1 6 2 9
% of Total 11% 66.7% 22.3% 100%
  • *”Not Provided” includes subpoenas that did not appropriately identify a member account.

Outcomes / Compliance With Requests

Total – U.S. Requests Above Rejected Content Disclosed Only Non-Content Disclosed TOTAL
# of Requests Received 4 3 2 9
% of Total 44.5% 33.3% 22.2% 100%

National Security Requests

Bands of 100 National Security Letters, FISA Orders for Content, and FISA Orders for Non-Content
# Received 0
# of Accounts Responsive 0

International Requests

Types of Legal Process Received

Retrospective Prospective TOTAL
# of Requests Received 1 0 1
# of Accounts Potentially Affected 1 0 1

Notification (Pre-Disclosure)

Requests with Non- Disclosure Orders No Non-Disclosure Order, Notice was Provided No Non-Disclosure Order, Notice was not Provided TOTAL
# of Requests Received 0 0 1 1
% of Total 0% 0% 100% 100%

Outcomes / Compliance With Requests

Total – Int’l Requests Above Rejected Content Disclosed Only Non-Content Disclosed TOTAL
# of Requests Received 0 0 1 1
% of Total 0% 0% 100% 100%

Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement

Types of IP Claims Received

IP Claims TOTAL
Trademark Copyright
# of Claims Received 35 38 73
# of Groups Potentially Affected 32 30 62
# of Events Potentially Affected 8 12 20

Outcomes / Compliance With Claims

Removed or Disabled Access Relayed claim only Rejected TOTAL
# of Trademark Claims Received 6 21 8 35
# of Copyright Claims Received 32 4 2 38
% of Total 52% 34.3% 13.7% 100%

Glossary

  • Requests or Claims Received: Total number of requests or claims acted on (e.g., rejected or respond to) during the report period (including amended requests).
  • Potentially Affected: Total number of accounts, groups, or events that would be affected if we complied completely with each request or claim (not including data requests that did not specify enough information to identify a target).
  • Notice Provided: Total number of data requests for which we notified target(s) (including rejected data requests).
  • Notice Not Provided: Total number of data requests for which we did not notify target(s) (including rejected data requests).
  • Relayed claim only: Total number of cases for which we relayed the IP claim(s) to the member who posted the material (not including cases in which we removed or disabled access to some or all of the allegedly infringing material).
  • Rejected: Total number of requests or claims pushed back on for any reason (e.g., overbroad, did not specify enough information to identify a target).
  • Content: Information concerning the substance or meaning of a particular communication, which can include text of emails, messages, and more. Content disclosures may also include non-content information.
  • Non-Content: Account information that is not considered to be content, which can include basic subscriber information such as the name used to create an account, the internet protocol address from which the account was created, or the internet protocol address used to sign in to an account, along with dates and times. Non-content information can also include more detailed transactional data about a user’s communications such as the internet protocol addresses, email addresses, handles, or phone numbers that sent or received the communications, as well as when the communications occurred, how long in duration, and how large in size they were.
  • Retrospective: Existing, historical data.
  • Prospective: Data that will be collected in the future.

Acknowledgements

This transparency report is based on the Transparency Reporting Toolkit’s Reporting Guide and Template created by the Open Technology Institute at New America and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. For more information about transparency reporting and the process of creating a transparency report, you can read the entire Toolkit at: https://www.newamerica.org/oti/transparency-toolkit/.

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David Pashman
David Pashman is Meetup's General Counsel. David leads the legal and business development teams and works with other teams across Meetup to solve problems, facilitate growth, and protect the company.