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Google reports government requests for data on the rise

23 Jan 2013
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Google received 21,389 governmental requests for data in the last six months of 2012, according to the latest version of Google's Transparency Report.

The Transparency Report is a biannually account of the number of data requests Google receives from world governments. This year's most recent report found these data requests continue to rise.

"The steady increase in government requests for our users' data continued in the second half of 2012, as usage of our services continued to grow," wrote Google's legal director of law enforcement and information security in a blog post.

"We've shared figures like this since 2010 because it's important for people to understand how government actions affect them."

The Transparency Report for the second half of 2012 showed a 4,000 request increase year-over-year. Google said that it produced data for these requests 66 percent of the time, a four percent decrease form the same time period the year prior.

US government officials once again led the world in data requests. The report found that US officials requested data 8,438 times during the last six months of 2012. US government requests were found to have been complied with 88 per cent of the time during the same period.

According to Google, US officials made over 5,700 of those data requests by way of a subpoena. Google says that the subpoenas involved in data requests are issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Using the ECPA to order a subpoena is unique because they usually don't require the involvement of a court judge.

India came in second for most data requests with 2,431 calls for data during the second half of 2012. Google officials only complied with the Indian government's requests 66 percent of the time.

Data requests from the UK government are also on the rise. According to the Transparency Report, UK officials had slightly more data requests during the last six months of 2012. Requests jumped from 1,425 to 1,458 over the course of 2012.

Google reportedly gave out data on 70 percent of those UK governmental requests. The mark represents a six percent increase from the same time last year.

The Transparency Report is a twice annually released report that aims to show what happens to consumer data handled by Google. Reports have been released by Google since 2009, during which time government requests for data have risen by 70 percent.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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