Governments’ Google Data Requests Hit All-Time-High



Governments around the world, led by the US, are requesting more user data from Google than ever before, according to a new transparency report.

Released at the end of last week, the report shows that in the first half of 2017, Google received 48,941 government requests relating to 83,345 accounts, up from 44,943 requests from 76,713 accounts during the same period in 2016.

It acceded to around two-thirds (65%) of requests.

Half of its requests came from the US government, while Germany the UK, France and others also featured prominently.

The figures didn’t include national security demands made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as they are subject to a six-month reporting delay.

However, Google was forced to update its FISA figures for several reporting periods in the past, having underestimated many.

For example, the number of users and accounts affected in the first half of 2016 was revised upwards from 18,500 – 18,999 to 25,000 – 25,499.

The key part of FISA allowing the US government to demand data from service providers (Section 702) expires at the end of 2017, and Google is looking to Congress to pass reforms that will improve netizens’ privacy protections.

It argued that processing requests from foreign governments under mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) is too slow, and could be replaced by an updated US Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

“ECPA should also be updated to enable countries that commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles to make direct requests to US providers,” argued Google director of law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado.


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