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  • Dean Smith

Internet Profile Report Advancement: Snapchat

At ICU Investigations, we strive to provide our clients with strong advancements in our investigative process and reports, and featured in this newsletter, we have a new social network to share that we will be implementing in our Internet Profile Reports in the near future: Snapchat!

Snapchat has become a popular, mobile-only social network that allows users to take pictures and videos to send to individuals directly, as well as post on their “Story.” When a user sends a snap directly to an individual and the recipient opens the “Snap,” they can only view it again once and immediately; after that, the snap disappears. However, when a snap is posted onto a user’s “Story,” it is viewable as many times as possible within a 24-hour period before it disappears. The only time Snaps and Stories do NOT disappear, is when they have been saved to the user’s “Memories.”

Now that we have established how Snapchat works, there are some other important points that need to be noted. First and foremost, users have the ability to make their accounts public or private. If the account is private, no one will be able to view their Story without requesting to follow. We are unable to make contact with a claimant or subject, so requesting to follow a Snapchat user is not in our practices. Even if a user has a public account, the user will be able to view who has watched their Story, which would in turn constitute making contact. Furthermore, screenshotting a user’s Snap and/or Story NOTIFIES the user that you’ve done so immediately!

So what can we do with Snapchat if we find a claimant’s account utilizing a username or phone number, and why are we deciding to include it in our Internet Profile Reports? It has been established that Snapchat does store certain information as highlighted in their Snapchat Law Enforcement Guide, and we want you to have the ability to obtain it in discovery if necessary by providing you with the account/username:

“V. User Records We Maintain and the Legal Process Required to Obtain Those Records”

“We can release user records on a non-emergency basis only if we receive legal process that fully complies with ECPA. The required legal process varies depending on the type of user information you seek:

a. Basic Subscriber Information

Basic subscriber information is collected when a user creates a new Snapchat account, alters information at a later date, or otherwise interacts with the Service. Please note that not all listed information is required, and that user-provided subscriber information is not always independently verified by us. Basic subscriber information may include:

● Snapchat username

● Email address

● Phone number

● Snapchat user vanity name

● Snapchat account creation date and IP address

● Timestamp and IP address of account logins and logouts

Process required for basic subscriber information: This information can be obtained through a subpoena (including one issued by a grand jury), administrative subpoena, or civil investigative demand pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703(c)(2); a court order issued in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d); or a federal or state search warrant.

b. Logs of Previous Snaps, Stories, and Chats

Snapchat retains logs for the last 31 days of Snaps sent and received, for 24 hours of posted Stories, and for any unopened Chats or those saved by a sender or recipient. The logs contain 8 meta-data about the Snaps, Stories, and Chats, but not the content.

Process required for logs of previous Snaps, Stories, and Chats: This information is available pursuant to a court order under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) or a federal or state search warrant.

c. Content

In certain limited circumstances it may be possible for us to retrieve the content of sent Snaps. The reason we often will not be able to retrieve Snap content is that we delete each Snap from our servers once all recipients have viewed it. And even when a Snap remains unopened, it will be deleted 30 days after it was sent.

Story content may be available for up to 24 hours, or until deleted by a user.

Chat content will be available only if the sender or recipient chooses to save the Chat, or if the Chat is unopened. Even when a Chat remains unopened, it will be deleted 30 days after it was sent.

Memories content may be available until deleted by a user.

Process required for message content: A federal or state search warrant is required for requests that include message content.”

See the full document HERE.

Suspicious? Get Answers with ICU!

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