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Google Updates Their Transparency Reports

May 16, 2015 - Written By Nick Terry

Transparency reports are something Google has been doing for quite awhile now, to be more exact, they have been doing them since 2010. They are a great thing for customers of Google services and something that more companies should offer after they reach a certain size. These transparency reports by Google offer customers the following information pertaining to the company, government requests to remove content, requests for information about users, requests by copyright owners to remove search results, Google product traffic, safe browsing statistics, email protection statistics, and European privacy requests for search removals.

What Google announced this afternoon is that they will be updating their transparency reports in order to keep up with more complicated requests they are beginning to receive. The search giant will now be including emergency disclosure requests and preservation requests that they receive in their transparency reports. So, what are these two new types of requests? Let’s take a moment to talk about just that.

Emergency disclosure requests encompass requests for information about an individual whose life is in danger. More specifically, this is when information is requested about a kidnapping victim or information is requested that could be used to prevent a potentially bad situation such as a school shooting. Google states that they have a system in place that is designed for fast-tracking these requests and getting the necessary information delivered without any delay. Google also says that transparency reports before already included this data, but that was only from requests made within the US. Now, transparency reports will include data on these types of requests made in any country.

Then there are the preservation requests that Google will now be including in their transparency reports. What these requests entail is governments asking Google to keep certain information about a specific user to the side. This is done so that information pertaining to something like an investigation is not lost and can be easily be referenced to later. Google has said, as with the emergency disclosure requests, that data on these requests from every country will be made available.

Google did also make mention towards the end of their blog post on this matter that they will be fighting, as they already have, some of the gag-orders that are sent to them. The company said in the blog post that some of the gag-orders just don’t make sense whereas some of them do. The ones that Google doesn’t see as making sense are the ones that they say they plan on taking to court and fighting. All-in-all, these are all great things for Google to be offering their customers and we hope that these transparency reports continue to grow as they did today.