Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Google's Latest Transparency Report Shows Continued Rise In User Data Requests

Google has released the company's latest Transparency Report, detailing government requests for user data. This latest report follows the trend of previous reports showing a steady increase in government requests for the information Google collects on users and a growing effort for the Government to obtain said data. Google has shared these figures since 2010 because the company feels it important for people to understand how government actions directly affect them!

This latest report offers a much more detailed view of what it takes for the Government to actually obtain your information. For the first time Google included a breakdown of the kinds of legal process that government entities in the U.S. use when compelling communications and technology companies to hand over user data. From July through December 2012:

  • 68 percent of the requests Google received from government entities in the U.S. were through subpoenas. These are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.
  • 22 percent were through ECPA search warrants. These are, generally speaking, orders issued by judges under ECPA, based on a demonstration of “probable cause” to believe that certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.
  • The remaining 10 percent were mostly court orders issued under ECPA by judges or other processes that are difficult to categorize.
User data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009, as you can see in our new visualizations of overall trends. In total, we received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users from July through December 2012.

Absent from the report is the newest data on content removals. That’s because going forward Google says they will create separate, likely more detailed reports for that information. For more on the report checkout today's Google Blog post.

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