Google: User-data requests have increased by 70 percent since 2009

Summary:Google's latest Transparency Report reveals that user-data requests from government agencies worldwide have increased significantly in the last four years.

Google has published its latest Transparency Report for data requests from governments worldwide, revealing a steep incline in demands from US agencies during the last four years.

Specifically, user-data requests of all kinds (including search warrants and subpoenas) within the United States have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009.

According to Google's report, this includes requests from US authorities for domestic investigations, as well as those made on behalf of other governments seeking assistance with their own cases.

(Credit: Google)

The most common form of requests that Google has received in the last six months were through subpoenas, typically demanding information that could identify the user. Accounting for roughly 68 percent of demand, these are probably the most common because they don't require judges.

In fact, approximately only 10 percent of data requests actually involved court orders from judges and via other legal processes.

Richard Salgado, legal director for Google's Law Enforcement and Information Security group, noted in a blog post on Wednesday that the current report goes much more in depth than what has been revealed in years before.

We've shared figures like this since 2010 because it's important for people to understand how government actions affect them.

We're always looking for ways to make the report even more informative. So for the first time we're now including a breakdown of the kinds of legal process that government entities in the US use when compelling communications and technology companies to hand over user data.

Other data outlined in the latest Transparency Report includes content-removal requests related to copyright and inappropriate materials, as well as availability information.

The latter refers to when and where Google services have been accessible or not. Based on the examples provided in the report (such as Syria, Afghanistan, and China), this list tends to reflect nations afflicted by war and/or governments that have been at odds with Google in the past.

The Internet giant has more data available, broken down by more than two dozen countries, online now.

Topics: Security, Data Management, Google, Government


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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