Google has introduced new updates to its Transparency Report that expand on its library of National Security Letters (NSLs) with a new subsection that contains the letters received by the search giant from the United States government. It should be pointed out that these letters are free from indefinite gag orders typically imposed on NSLs by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which started removing such restrictions from certain NSLs following the 2015 USA Freedom Act. Prior to that, the FBI prohibited Google from sharing details of government requests with the public. The new section of the Transparency Report will be updated on a regular basis, with the Mountain View, California-based internet giant promising to add more letters to the subsection in the future.
Additionally, in an effort to help users locate and share certain charts in the report, Google also added a new feature called “deep linking” to the Transparency Report. With this new feature, users will now be able to display certain data such as government information removals in a particular country for a specified period of time by sorting these pieces of information according to categories meant to define the types of data a user wants to find. This data will then be shown through a link that appears at the top of the browser window, so it is easier to bookmark and share.
Part of the new update comes in the form of the latest figures for government requests for content removals on a global scale. According to the latest reporting period, Google received 19,176 government requests from across the world to delete 76,714 pieces of illegal content during the first half of 2017. The volume of requests of content removal marks a 20 percent rise in such government requests compared to the last six months of 2016, during which the search giant received more than 45,000 requests, which was previously the largest number of requests received by the company since 2010 when it created the Transparency Report. Furthermore, 31,000 of those requests came from international governments who requested information on their citizens. All of the removals were conducted in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies and in accordance with applicable laws, Google said.