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Google Report Increased Number Of User Data Requests From Worldwide Governments

September 15, 2014 - Written By John Anon

With Google so dominate nowadays in terms of user information it is no surprise that reports keep coming in on various governments and Courts asking Google to hand over data on its users. However, what is alarming is the continued rise and escalation of requests Google are receiving. Requests from governments and other institutions have become so widespread that Google some time ago started to release its Transparency Reports. These reports detail the number of times over a given period (typically six months) how many requests Google have received. Today, Google released their newest Transparency Report (its tenth incarnation) which again shows an increase in the number of requests received highlighting the increased pressure Google is under from various Worldwide governments.

The current report details request activity over the first six months of this year and compared to the previous half-year (latter half of 2013), Google report a 15% increase in the number of requests for user data. This is also a 150% increase since they first began publishing this information in 2009. If you think the continued rise is quite unsettling then it is worth noting the figures reported by Google for the US (alone) are higher than the noted averages. In the US the current Transparency Report states an increase of requests for the first half of 2014 being 19% higher (compared to the overall 15%) compared to the previous 6 month time frame. In addition, this accompanies an overall increase of 250% in the US since Google started reporting the information (compared to the overall 150%). It is also worth remembering that these figures do not include any requests made, but protected by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) or by an NSL (National Security Letter) which is basically an administrative subpoena issued by the FBI.

As well as reporting the information, Google also used the Transparency Report to highlight the issues of data collection by drawing attention to the ‘USA Freedom Act’ which according to Google would “allow us to be more transparent about the volume, scope and type of national security demands that we receive”. In addition, Google also highlights the need for the ‘Electronic Communications Privacy Act’ to be updated “to make it clear that the government must obtain a search warrant before it can compel a service provider to disclose the content of a user’s communication”. Anyone worried about the continued rise in government requests or just feels it’s the nature of the technological world we now live in?