Google: Government requests for user information up more than 100pc

15 Nov 2013

Government requests to Google for user information have increased by more than 100pc since 2010 as usage of its services grows and as more governments have submitted requests than ever before, the internet search giant has said.

Google updated its Transparency Report for the eighth time since 2010 yesterday, and the more than 100pc figure only includes requests Google is allowed to publish, it said.

Richard Salgado, legal director, Law Enforcement and Information Security, wrote in a post on Google’s blog that the company has been adding more details to the report over the past three years

“We’re including additional information about legal process for U.S. criminal requests: breaking out emergency disclosures, wiretap orders, pen register orders and other court orders,” Salgado wrote.

“We want to go even further. We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. However, the U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.”

Google graphics

Graphics via Google’s blog

Salgado added that earlier this year Google brought forth a federal case to assert it does indeed have the right to “shine more light on the FISA process” and well as having written a letter of support for legislation currently proposed in the U.S. Congress.

The government requests made to Google, however, are nothing out of the ordinary, Nick Ackerman, a data privacy expert and a partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney told the Los Angeles Times.

Ackerman said the government requests Google receives are the same type of requests governments make to other kinds of companies, such as banks, as part of criminal investigations.

“It is no different than any other criminal investigation where the government has an order requiring the subpoenaed party not to reveal the information that is being subpoenaed,” he said in a statement.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic