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Last Updated: June 17, 2019

Information for Law Enforcement Authorities

sp0n, Inc (d/b/a Citizen) is a mobile phone application available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. The application provides a new way to monitor incidents that occur in real time. Users receive information from the app about an incident, then can take a video using their camera phone or send chat messages in real time. The purpose of this guide is to familiarize U.S. law enforcement agencies with the categories of information available from Citizen and the specific legal process necessary to compel that information.

Review Process

When Citizen receives a legal request from a law enforcement agency, another government agency, a lawyer representing a criminal defendant, or a civil litigant, the first step is for our team to review the request to determine if it meets relevant legal requirements, including both statutory requirements and the Constitutional interests of Citizen and its users, specifically including freedom of speech, expression, assembly, and association as well as freedom of the press. If the request meets all relevant legal requirements, our team then checks that the information is still available and has not already been deleted, either as part of our regular data-retention practices or by the user. As part of its review for legal sufficiency, Citizen may ask the requester for additional information or context before making any responsive disclosure or may reject the request in its entirety due to legal insufficiency or defects (e.g. the request is overly broad, the request is technically deficient due to failure to provide required information, the request seeks content with insufficient legal process, or the request appears impermissibly to burden the Constitutional rights of Citizen or its users). For valid and properly scoped requests to which Citizen does not object, our team will assemble the required records and produce them to the requester. Once the records have been produced, the case is considered completed and closed.

Contact Information

Citizen accepts service via email and mail:

  • Email:
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 55071 #92726 Boston, Massachusetts 02205-5071

Form of Requests

We will be unable to process overly broad or vague requests. All requests must identify requested records with particularity, including the specific data categories requested and date limitations for the request, as well as include:

  • The name of the law enforcement agency and issuing agent, email address from a law-enforcement domain, and direct contact phone number.
  • The username of the account. If you are unable to locate a username, Citizen will make a reasonable attempt to locate the account with a phone number or email address.

U.S. Legal Process Requirements

We disclose user information solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law, including the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), 18 U.S.C. Sections 2701-2712. Under U.S. law:

  • A valid subpoena issued in connection with an official criminal investigation is required to compel the disclosure of basic subscriber records (defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(c)(2)), which may include: username, email address(es), phone number(s), account creation date, and a recent login/logout IP address(es), if available.
  • A court order issued under 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(d) is required to compel the disclosure of certain records or other information pertaining to the account, not including contents of communications, which may include video and chat metadata and IP addresses associated with account activity, in addition to the basic subscriber records identified above.
  • A search warrant issued under the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or equivalent state warrant procedures upon a showing of probable cause is required to compel the disclosure of the stored contents of any account, which may include messages, photos, videos, chat messages, and location information.
  • We interpret the national security letter provision as applied to Citizen to require the production of only 2 categories of information: name and length of service.

International Legal Process Requirements

International governmental and law enforcement agencies must use Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”) or letters rogatory processes to compel the disclosure of information. International law enforcement agencies may use this guide to help them understand how Citizen works, but the legal process and emergency disclosure provisions described in this guide apply only to U.S. agencies.

Preservation Requests

We will take steps to preserve account information in connection with official criminal investigations for 90 days pending our receipt of formal legal process in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(f). We will extend the preservation for an additional 90 days upon receipt of a renewed request.

Data Retention and Availability

We will search for and disclose data that is specified with particularity in an appropriate form of legal process and which we are reasonably able to locate and retrieve. We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request before a user has deleted that content from our service.

The basic identity information entered by a user in creating an account is maintained as long as the user has not edited the data or removed the information from the account. Once the user makes a change, the previously existing information is overwritten. Upon receipt of a preservation request, however, Citizen can capture the user data available at that time, and future actions by the user will not affect the preserved data.

Emergency Requests

In responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Sections 2702(b)(8) and 2702(c)(4), a law enforcement official may submit a request to Note: We will not review or respond to requests submitted by non-law enforcement officials. Users aware of an emergency situation should immediately and directly contact local law enforcement officials.

Child Safety Matters

We report all apparent instances of child exploitation appearing on our site from anywhere in the world to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), including content drawn to our attention by government requests. NCMEC coordinates with the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement authorities from around the world. If a request relates to a child exploitation or safety matter, please specify those circumstances (and include relevant NCMEC report identifiers) in the request to ensure that we are able to address these matters expeditiously and effectively.


Citizen does not provide expert testimony support. In addition, Citizen records are self-authenticating pursuant to law and should not require the testimony of a records custodian. If a special form of certification is required, please attach it to your records request.

Cost Reimbursement

We may seek reimbursement for costs in responding to requests for information as provided by law. These fees apply on a per account basis. We may also charge additional fees for costs incurred in responding to unusual or burdensome requests.

We may waive these fees in matters investigating potential harm to children, Citizen, and our users, and emergency requests.

Legal Advice

Citizen cannot provide legal advice to law enforcement officials. As such, should you seek further clarification about ECPA’s restrictions on providers like Citizen, we suggest you contact the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) at 202- 514-1026 and ask to speak to the Duty Attorney.