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What Happens When Patreon Receives a Request for Information on a Creator (or Patron)?

Any time you provide a website with your personal contact and financial information, there is a certain amount of trust involved. Patreon understands this, and we take our responsibility to keep both creator and patron information safe and secure very seriously.

Patreon’s business model is to get creators paid directly from fans. We’re not in the information-collecting-and-selling business in the same way that much of the internet is. We don’t use your information to target you and your patrons with ads, and we don’t sell your information to other companies that do so, either.

Appropriately, our policy around creator and patron information is to collect only what’s needed, be transparent about who has access to it, and to keep it as safe and secure as possible.

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In our Privacy Center, we make it easy to see what information we collect (and why we collect it).

Whether it's Patreon's support of two-factor authentication, or the efforts of our fraud prevention team, we work hard to keep your information under strict lock and key.

One clear example of this is our policy on responding to requests from 3rd parties for your account and personal information. To put it simply, unless necessary to prevent death or physical harm, we do not give out any information on our creators or patrons unless that information is requested:

  • by a proper legal authority
  • through the appropriate legal process

What Is a Request for Information?

A request for information is exactly what it sounds like — someone reaches out to Patreon asking for information about a creator or patron.

These requests are issued for any number of reasons, from individuals just curious about a creator’s legal name (that’s a definite no, by the way; we don’t give that out) to federal agents serving Patreon with grand jury subpoenas for the logs on a creator account implicated in an international conspiracy (okay, that’s a yes, but, to date, that one hasn’t actually happened).

Patreon applies the same approach to all requests for account information, regardless of who brings them. Save for emergency situations, unless the information is from an official legal authority and the request is served via legal process, we do not give your information to anyone asking for it.

What Are Patreon’s Requirements for These Requests?

Legal authorities requesting information from Patreon about a creator (or their patrons) are required to follow certain legal processes for the type of request being brought (i.e. an international law enforcement agent must bring a request through a mutual legal assistance treaty). That way, we can confirm that they are who they say they are, and that they possess the legal authority to make the information request.

We do not give out information to anyone unless the received requests are written, signed, and issued under an appropriate law. Also, legal authorities must sufficiently identify the user for whom the information is being requested. Requests can be sent to Patreon at [email protected]. Our legal team reviews each and every request to make sure they are from a legitimate source, and that they follow legal procedure.

One way that we vet these requests is by making sure legal authorities aren’t requesting more information than is reasonable. When we receive an overly broad request, we require the requester to narrow its scope in compliance with legal standards.

These requirements are not put in place to make this information more difficult to obtain. We have these checks to protect your information from falling into the hands of bad actors. We rely on our policies and procedures to make sure that we know who we are dealing with on the other end of these requests.

Unless a requester of information has the legal authority to bring their request, and does so through an official legal process, we kindly decline the request (and send them a link to this blog post).

In the event of a request for information, Patreon may let the creator or patron know that their information has been legally requested. We then query the information internally and compile only the information specifically requested to be encrypted and sent to the requester. We do not share any information that was not specifically requested.

Here Are a Couple Examples of Requests for Information That Patreon Wouldn’t Honor

1. A patron asks us to give them your home address

Let’s say you are a potter who makes ceramic mugs of American presidents. Your birthday is coming up in a couple weeks. One of your patrons loves your work so much that they made you a special “Babe”-raham Lincoln mug, which features President Lincoln as a baby in a diaper (but he still has that awesome beard and top-hat).

So, with the best of intentions, this thankful patron asks us for your house address, so they can send you the birthday gift.

Do we give it to them? No. Even though the patron means well, we would still deny the request and politely tell them to ask you for the address themselves.

2. A company requests to purchase your data

Let’s say you are a medieval moat enthusiast. You think home security peaked in the Middle Ages, and so you make YouTube tutorials teaching people how to build moats (and drawbridges) around their homes. And your patrons love you for it.

Someone at an exotic pet company saw one of the moat videos you made. Since they sell animals that would do well in moats, like piranhas and alligators, they ask us to purchase data on your patrons, so they can better market to them.

Do we give it to them? Not a chance.

We don’t sell your data to anyone. Period.

3. A law enforcement officer requests the contents of messages sent on Patreon

Let’s say you are a creator who is known for yarn graffiti. A law enforcement officer brings a subpoena for an ongoing case against you. They suspect you have been conspiring with other creators, corresponding exclusively on Patreon, to knit a giant sweater over the Statue of Liberty! They bring a subpoena requesting the contents of all of your electronic correspondence on Patreon.

Do we give it to them? Nope. Even properly issued subpoenas have their limits and the contents of messages on Patreon requires a search warrant issued on probable cause.

So What’s the Main Takeaway Here?

Patreon only shares creator or patron information with proper legal authorities, as long as they follow the appropriate legal process.

You can always access your own information in our privacy center, and unless legally prohibited, we let you know when your information is being requested.

Are you a law enforcement agency looking to bring a request for information? Then check out our help center article on how to do just that.

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