Since 2010, when Google first released a transparency report, the US Government has tripled its total requests for user information, according to Google’s latest statement. While this increase corresponds with the increase in data that the NSA requested, the two are not directly connected.
Google’s 2013 transparency report shows that since 2010, it has received 100% more requests each year, with that amount continuing to increase. Many of the requests came from the US, but India, Brazil, and the UK have also been requesting information on thousands of users.
When it comes to the US’s requests, Google, in correspondence with the law, has been forced to honor 83% of the 10,918 requests. Since other countries have slightly less control over what Google releases, their requests have not been honored as frequently.
The 10,000+ requests mentioned in Google’s transparency report only cover January 2013 to June 2013. Plus, the number may be even higher since Google is not currently allowed to release detailed reports on the government’s data requests (something that Google is incredibly unhappy with.)
Out of all the technology companies that the government frequently tries to amass data from, Google has the largest collection of user data, making it a prime target of legal (and illegal) attempts to acquire that information.
“We strongly believe that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) must be updated in this Congress…Governmental entities should be required to obtain a warrant—issued based on a showing of probable cause—before requiring companies like Google to disclose the content of users’ electronic communications.”
– Google’s legal director Richard Salgado
At least in the requests that Google has been able to report, the government has obtained a warrant before asking for data, but in some instances that is not the case.
Within its report, Google published multiple graphs to emphasize how many data requests are now coming in compared to how many there were in 2010. Even though the NSA is not involved with these requests, Snowden’s revelations regarding the NSA spying have forced Google to walk on eggshells with its users as it attempts to assure them that their information is not being released.
This is the same reason that the transparency reports have been coming out on a consistent basis from Google, as well as why Google responded in such a harsh manner when Snowden revealed that the NSA had tapped Google’s fiber lines which run between its data centers.
Google and the American Civil Liberties Union have both criticized the US Government for not allowing internet and phone companies to release more information regarding the US’s requests for data.