For governments and law enforcement, Google is an increasingly popular place to gather information on people. Google has seen a 120 percent jump in government request for user data since 2009, the company revealed today in an announcement of its most recent Transparency Report.
In a post on the Google blog, Richard Salgado, Google’s Legal Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security, says the rise is due to both a rise in Google users, and the fact that “more and more governments” are exercising “their authority to make requests.”
From July through December 2013, Google fielded 27,477 user data requests from 64 world governments pertaining to 42,648 user accounts. Of these, 10,574 requests came from U.S. government and law enforcement agencies, and they concerned 18,254 user accounts – far more than any other country (which is consistent from what we’ve seen in previous Google Transparency Reports). On average, Google complied with 64 precent of requests form all governments, but acted on 83 percent of requests from U.S. authorities.
The second highest rate of requests came from the U.K., which served 1,397 requests pertaining to 3,142 accounts. The majority of countries and territories on the list served requests in the single or double digits.
Release of this report follows efforts by Google and other major Internet companies to provide users with more information about requests that involve National Security Letters, and those issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
As part of Google’s efforts to increase transparency around government surveillance and data requests, the company has released a kid-friendly video explaining how the data request process works in the U.S. – a welcome addition, considering how bureaucratic the whole process is. That said, the video is also clearly an attempt to help Google look like the responsible player in this game of data collection – so take all of this with a dash of salt.
See the video below.