Google surveillance report for first half of 2016 shows more government demands

google surveillance report first half 2016 googlehq feat
If you’re Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, or any other technology company that provides cloud services, then you spend a tremendous amount of time and energy responding to government requests for information. If you’re a global company, that means responding to countries across the political spectrum, from those that respect individual privacy to those that do not. Meanwhile, your users rightly demand to know how much of their information is being provided along with the nature of the requests.

In response, these same companies often provide transparency reports with a variety of detail on those requests and how the company responded. Google published just such a report today, and issued a summary on its blog titled “Building on Surveillance Reform” and written by Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security.

In terms of sheer volume, Google received 44,943 government requests over the first half of 2016, an increase of roughly 10 percent compared to the first half of 2015, for 76,713 Google accounts, down from 81,311 accounts. Google handed over information for 64 percent of the requests, which was unchanged from the previous period. Google reports that a number of countries made requests for the first time, including Algeria, Belarus, the Cayman Islands, El Salvador, Fiji, and Saudi Arabia.

Given recent allegations that Yahoo implemented software to actively scan user email for United States spy agencies, Google is understandably quick to note that it reviews each request carefully and ensures that it conforms to the requisite legal guidelines. For example, Google will not provide information regarding criminal cases without a search warrant, and the company has its own firm policies to protect user privacy.

Regarding the U.S. specifically, Google reports that more international accounts were included in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Reported as a range, the number increased from 16,000-16,499 to 21,000-21,499. According to Google, the U.S. is in the process of reforming its surveillance practices in general, with FISA getting attention from the U.S. Congress.

In spite of such reforms in the U.S. and with more countries making demands, the number of requests for user information continues to grow. Increasingly, users need to consider government along with those with malicious intent when considering how their private information may be accessed and utilized.


Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Movies & TV

Do you have questions about Hulu? We’ve got answers

Not sure which Hulu subscription is right for you? We're here to help. This is your complete guide to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, including content offerings for each service, pricing, internet requirements, and more.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.

Apple MacBook Air vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The MacBook Air was updated with more contemporary components and a more modern design, but is that enough to compete with standouts like Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 detachable tablet?
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Amazon Go expansions, the robocall onslaught, more

On this episode of Digital Trends' live morning show, Digital Trends Live, hosts Greg Nibler and Jeremy Kaplan explored the news of the day, including Amazon Go's potential expansion, the robocall onslaught, and more.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.