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Transparency at Coinbase

By Paul Grewal, Chief Legal Officer

Coinbase believes that trust is built through transparency and honesty. As we continue on our journey to becoming the most trusted venue for anyone to interact with the cryptoeconomy, today we’re releasing a Transparency Report that shares insights into how we handle legitimate government requests for some customer data.

Coinbase believes in protecting the financial privacy of our customers. As part of our commitment to being the most trusted place to engage with cryptocurrency, we work every day to ensure customer information remains safe and secure from compromise, inappropriate use, or unnecessary disclosure.

This includes keeping our customers informed about the information they entrust to us. In that spirit, today we are releasing our first Transparency Report. The report summarizes government requests that Coinbase received for customer account information during the first half of 2020.

First, some context

Coinbase currently serves more than 38 million customers worldwide. Like other global financial services and technology companies, we regularly receive requests from law enforcement and government agencies seeking customer account information and financial records in connection with civil, criminal, or other investigative matters. These requests largely come in the form of subpoenas, but may also include search warrants, court orders, and other formal processes. When these requests are valid under financial regulations and other applicable laws, Coinbase has an obligation to respond.

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. Yet we will not hesitate to push back where appropriate, even when it is inconvenient or costly to do so. That’s why each request we receive is handled by a team of experienced specialists in accordance with set procedures to confirm the validity of the request and narrow or object to requests that are overly broad.

What to expect going forward

We believe transparency is a critical part of accountability and maintaining customer trust. That is why we plan to continue releasing these reports on a regular basis. While we are restricted from disclosing some of the information requests we receive, over time we hope to update and improve our reports with additional information, resources, and observations to provide more granular insights into our government response process.

A final point: while transparency reports have become more common in tech, they remain rare in financial services. We think it is important not just for cryptocurrency companies, but for fintechs and banks at large to shed light on financial data sharing practices and contribute to the understanding of industry trends in a meaningful way.

Coinbase Transparency Report — Period: Jan 1, 2020 — June 30, 2020

Total Requests Received: 1,914

Insights

  • ~58% of all requests come from US agencies
  • ~90% of all requests come from three jurisdictions: the U.S., UK, and Germany
  • ~16% of all U.S. requests come from state or local authorities


Transparency at Coinbase was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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