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Snapchat Reveals It Manually Retrieves 'Snaps' By Request Of Law Enforcement Officials

Snapchat has shed new light on the exact details concerning the supposedly transient nature of photos and videos, aka "Snaps," sent through its network. In a new blog post, Snapchat Director of Operations Micah Schaffer reiterates that Snaps are deleted from Snapchat's servers after they are opened by their recipients. Unopened Snaps, on the other hand, remain on the servers until they're deleted. Schaffer maintains, though, that unopened Snaps are not manually retrieved under ordinary circumstances. But under special circumstances, as when required by a law enforcement agency, Snapchat does perform manual retrieval of unopened Snaps:
So what is a circumstance when we might manually retrieve a Snap, assuming it is still unopened? For example, there are times when we, like other electronic communication service providers, are permitted and sometimes compelled by law to access and disclose information. For example, if we receive a search warrant from law enforcement for the contents of Snaps and those Snaps are still on our servers, a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) obliges us to produce the Snaps to the requesting law enforcement agency. For more information, see the section of our Privacy Policy that discusses circumstances when we may disclose information.
According to Schaffer, Snapchat has produced unopened Snaps to law enforcement for "about a dozen" of the search warrants it has received since last May. It has also been requested by law enforcement to preserve Snaps for a time, as when a search warrant is pending for Snaps. Schaffer points out that only two employees at Snapchat can access the tool for manually retrieving unopened Snaps: Schaffer himself, and Snapchat cofounder and CTO Bobby Murphy, who developed the tool. He also notes that the legal requirements for access and disclosure of Snaps are also applicable to Stories. Added to Snapchat earlier this month, Stories are rolling compilations of Snaps from the last 24 hours.
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