Google says government data requests surging

Published November 14, 2013
A Google logo is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in this file photo illustration taken in Encinitas, California, on April 11, 2013. — Photo Reuters
A Google logo is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in this file photo illustration taken in Encinitas, California, on April 11, 2013. — Photo Reuters

WASHINGTON: Google said Thursday the number of requests for user data from governments and law enforcement has doubled since 2010, as it renewed a push to reveal more about US demands.

In its updated “transparency report” covering the first six months of 2013, the tech giant said the largest number of requests -- 10,918 -- came from the United States.

That accounted for more than a third of the 25,879 requests Google received worldwide.

The California Internet company renewed its argument for the ability to reveal more about US national security requests, disclosures of which must be lumped in with law enforcement inquiries.

“We believe it's your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies,” Google's legal director Richard Salgado said in a blog posting.

“However, the US Department of Justice contends that US law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive,” he added.

“Specifically, the US government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.”Google and other tech companies have gone to court to win the right to publish more detailed figures, and have been urging lawmakers to join this effort.

The overall number of requests rose from 20,938 in the last six months of 2012, and more than doubled from the 12,539 in the last six months of 2009.

In 2013, India had the second largest number of requests, 2,691, followed by Germany (2,311), France (2,011) and Britain (1,274), “This comes as usage of our services continues to grow, but also as more governments have made requests than ever before. And these numbers only include the requests we're allowed to publish,” Salgado said.

Google provided at least some data in 83 per cent of US requests and in 65 per cent of global requests.

The report comes with US tech companies under pressure following revelations of a secret government program that scoops up vast amounts of data from Internet firms.

Tech firms including Microsoft, Google and Facebook have been seeking to release more information on government data requests, in the belief this would reassure customers.

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