Google: Government Information Requests Are Up Up Up

Google has dropped its latest transparency report, showing that requests from governments and law-enforcement agencies for user information from Gmail, YouTube and other popular services is up once again.

In the first half of 2014, it received approximately 32,000 data requests (non-FISA related) from around the world, which is 15% more than the latter half of 2013, and 150% more than the company received when it started publishing transparency reports in 2009. In the US, those increases are 19% and 250%, respectively.

Google said that it complied with data requests to at least some extent in 65% of the cases.

The news comes amid claims that the New Zealand government conducted mass surveillance activities on its citizens despite denying such a project existed, and allegations that the NSA and GCHQ have compromised the networks of Deutsche Telekom and another telco in Germany. Suffice it to say that government interest in the digital activities of citizens would appear to never have been higher.

“Despite these revelations, we have seen some countries expand their surveillance authorities in an attempt to reach service providers outside their borders,” said Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director for law enforcement and information security, in a posting. “Others are considering similar measures. The efforts of the US Department of Justice and other countries to improve diplomatic cooperation will help reduce the perceived need for these laws, but much more remains to be done.”

He also advocated for legislative reform domestically, especially when it comes to the USA FREEDOM Act, which would prevent the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various legal authorities, and the updating of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require the government to obtain a search warrant before it can compel a service provider to disclose the content of a user’s communication.

He added, “Governments have a legitimate and important role in fighting crime and investigating national security threats. To maintain public confidence in both government and technology, we need legislative reform that ensures surveillance powers are transparent, reasonably scoped by law, and subject to independent oversight.”

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