Law Enforcement Request Guidelines

Who are these guidelines for?

These guidelines are solely intended for use by law enforcement or official representatives of government agencies.

These guidelines are not intended for requests for information by Substack readers, writers, or non-governmental litigants in civil or criminal matters. 

How do I send a request?

Please send all legal or law enforcement requests to ler@substackinc.com. If your agency must submit requests via mail or in person, our address is as follows: 

111 Sutter Street, 7th Floor

San Francisco, CA, 94104

What are the requirements for submitting a legal request?

In order for Substack to process your request it must generally meet the following conditions:

  • Be sent by a law enforcement agency or official government entity via a registered email domain;
  • Include valid and enforceable legal process, meeting the requirements of U.S. law that compels Substack to produce the information requested;
  • Contain the name and contact information of the individual law enforcement agent or government representative who is authorized to serve the request;
  • State with particularity the categories of records or information sought;
  • Include sufficient information regarding the customer account, such as an email address, in order for Substack to identify the customer account(s) at issue; and
  • Indicate the specific time period for which information is requested.

Legal Process Requirements 

Substack’s disclosures to law enforcement are subject to the requirements of U.S. law, including the requirements of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq. Where a U.S. law enforcement request seeks the contents of communications sent or received through Substack’s products or services, the law will typically require a valid U.S. search warrant.

Requests from non-U.S. law enforcement, for both content and non-content subscriber information, may be fulfilled where allowed under the CLOUD Act. Otherwise, the requesting agency should seek U.S. assistance under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

Substack may waive process requirements for emergencies, where appropriate and legally permissible.

Substack’s Disclosures to Users 

Per Substack’s Privacy Policy, we will use reasonable efforts to provide notice to our users  when we respond to a request for their information unless we are explicitly prohibited from doing so by law.

Law enforcement or other official government agencies that do not want Substack to notify our users of their request should include a court order or reference to other legal authority that bars Substack from disclosing the existence of the request to our customer.

If your request for information draws Substack’s attention to a violation of our Terms of Service or Publisher Agreement, Substack will take action to prevent further abuse, which may alert the customer to Substack’s awareness of its misconduct. Your request should explicitly include instruction to Substack to not take action if you wish to prevent potential awareness on the part of Substack end users.

Emergency Disclosures

We may disclose information to law enforcement where we believe that emergency circumstances involving danger of death or serious physical injury require us to provide rapid disclosure. 

Substack will evaluate emergency disclosure requests on a case-by-case basis with reference to applicable law.

How do I make an emergency disclosure request for customer information?

To make an emergency disclosure, take the following steps:

  1. Send an email of your request to ler@substackinc.com
  2. Include “URGENT” or “EMERGENCY REQUEST” in the subject line of your email.
  3. Briefly describe the nature of the emergency and why such information is requested of Substack

What are the requirements for Substack to respond to an emergency request?

For Substack to process an emergency disclosure request, the request must:

  • Be in writing (submitted through email);
  • Be sent by a law enforcement agency or official government representative sent via a registered email domain;
  • Be issued due to a legitimate belief that there exists a danger of death or serious physical injury to a person that Substack may have information necessary to prevent;
  • Include the nature of the emergency that requires disclosure, without delay, of the customer information requested;
  • Explain how the information sought will help avert the threatened death or serious physical injury and why normal disclosure processes would be insufficient or untimely in light of the deadline requested;
  • Contain the name and contact information of the individual law enforcement or authorized government agent serving the request;
  • State with particularity the categories of records or information sought;
  • Include sufficient information regarding the customer account, such as an email address, in order for Substack to identify the customer account(s) at issue; and
  • Indicate the specific time period for which customer information is requested.

Note: Per Substack’s Privacy Policy, we will use reasonable efforts to provide notice to our customer when we receive a request for their information unless we are explicitly prohibited from doing so by law.

Child Safety Matters

Substack reports apparent instances of child exploitation detected on our services to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, including content drawn to our attention by law enforcement. If a request relates to child exploitation, an AMBER alert, or some other child safety matter, please include “CHILD SAFETY MATTER” in the subject line of your request.

What Services Does Substack Provide? 

Substack is an online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure and services to support subscription newsletters. 

Publishers use Substack’s services to send newsletters to email subscribers who have opted in to receive their communications. 

Readers use Substack’s services via web, email, mobile application, or RSS feed to subscribe to and receive newsletters. 

Preservation Requests 

Substack does not guarantee the existence or retention of particular customer information. However, Substack will preserve any customer information in its possession in response to a formal and valid request from a law enforcement agency that includes a specific time range for preservation not to exceed 90 days.

Preservation requests must: 

  • Be in writing;
  • Be sent by a law enforcement agency or official government entity via a registered email domain;
  • Contain the name and contact information of the individual law enforcement agent or authorized government agent serving the request;
  • State with particularity the categories of records or information sought;
  • Include sufficient information regarding the customer account, such as an email address for Substack to identify the customer account(s) at issue; indicate the specific time period for which customer information is requested; and
  • Be limited to only that customer information which you intend to obtain legal process to receive.

Note: Per Substack’s Privacy Policy, we will use reasonable efforts to provide notice to our customer when we receive a request for their information unless we are explicitly prohibited from doing so by law. Substack may notify the user of the preservation request unless explicitly prohibited from doing so by statute, subpoena or court or administrative order.

Takedown Requests 

Substack will consider requests to disable content on a case-by-case basis. Substack may notify the user of the request unless explicitly prohibited from doing so by statute, subpoena or court or administrative order.

Response Time 

Substack typically responds to valid requests for information within two business weeks. However, response times may take longer than two business weeks depending on the complexity and scope of the request.

If you require an expedited response, the required response deadline should be stated clearly in both the submission documentation and the formal request itself.

These guidelines are regularly reviewed by Substack and are subject to change at our discretion.

 

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