QCS News

Google and Government Requests for User Information

6 Feb , 2013  

Back on January 23rd of this year, Google released a blog post or memo they called the Transparency Report which talked about data requests they received by various means and how many of these requests was data produced and released to the party requesting the data. The data included a breakdown of requests such as search warrants or subpoenas and a breakdown on data requests versus requests for user account information. This data was broken down by time period and country. For those who might have missed this it can be found at https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/userdatarequests/legalprocess/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>transparency report update.

Further Information Released

This first report showed that government requests for user information have risen by 70% over the last 2 years. They have released further information on how they deal with these requests and why they respond to government requests for data.

How Many Requests are Received

Google SVP David Drummond and Google’s chief legal officer wrote in a recent blog post that Google receives dozens of requests every day from government agencies looking for users’ account information. Google must respond to all these requests in the correct manner and that means respecting the rights of all parties involved.

What Google Does With Requests

David wrote that it is important for any law enforcement agencies to purse illegal activity and to keep the public save. He further stated that Google is a law-abiding company and do not want their services to be used in ways that are harmful. But, David stated that it is important that laws protect the general public against overly broad requests for personal information.

So exactly how does Google handle these requests? Drummond explained that when Google is able, they notify users that someone has come asking for their information – whether it is search query history, documents, photos, Gmail messages or YouTube videos – giving the user time to prepare any legal response and Google also demands that the government agencies arrive with a legal written search warrant.

What Google Looks For

Google then scrutinizes the request carefully to ensure it satisfies the law as well as Google’s policies. Before Google considers complying the request needs to be made in writing, contain the signature of an official who is authorized to sign for the requesting agencies, and is issued under the law that is appropriate. For example, Google evaluates the scope of the request. If it is overly broad they refuse to provide the information or they seek to narrow the request and they frequently do this.

Further Information

In addition, Google continues its advocacy of updates to the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Google has added a much more detail section that explains the https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/userdatarequests/legalprocess/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>information on a data requests. You can follow this link for further information.


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