Government Requests for Google User Data on the Rise

Despite mounting public privacy concerns, the number of requests by the U.S. and other governments for user information from Google continues to increase, more than doubling in the past three years alone, according to a Google blog post yesterday.

The U.S. government, Google said, far and away made the most requests for user data in the first half of 2013, totaling 10,918 from January through June, followed by 2,691 requests by the government of India. Of the nearly 11,000 requests by the U.S., Google actually produced 83% "of requests where some data [was] produced."

The first six months of 2013 saw a dramatic increase from the last six months of last year, according to Google. In the last half of 2012, Google received 6,321 user data requests from the U.S., which in and of itself was a significant increase from the second half of 2009, when U.S. governmental agencies made 3,580 requests.

Of this year's requests, Google said 68% were related to subpoenas, 22% warrants, and 6% "other court orders." Pen register orders, a surveillance technique to track phone numbers and call information, and now includes intercepting Internet usage data, accounted for 6%, and the final 1% of the user requests were for emergency disclosures.

Google, as with other Internet sites recently reporting government user data requests, is still limited in sharing some information, including requests that fall under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) umbrella.


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