Google sees new high for data requests; India 4th on list

13 Oct 2016


Google said on Wednesday that data requests from governments around the world hit a record high in the six months ending in June, extending a steady rise.

The 44,943 requests amounted to a 10-per cent increase from the prior six-month period and a fourth consecutive increase, Google said in its "transparency report."

The official requests related to 76,713 user accounts in the latest period, down from 81,311 in the second half of 2015.

Google provided at least some data in response to 64 per cent of the requests in 2016, unchanged from the previous reporting period.

For India, the numbers have seen a slight rise, from 3,265 in the last report to 3,452 data requests made in the current one. It also impacted more number of accounts at 6,207. These numbers seem to be following an upward trajectory compared to the first half of the year when 3,087 data requests were made.

The number of requests to Google has been generally rising since it began releasing transparency data in 2011.

The online giant, like other tech firms, maintains that it protects user privacy while cooperating with lawful requests from police and other official agencies.

"As we have noted in the past, when we receive a request for user information, we review it carefully and only provide information within the scope and authority of the request," Google law enforcement director Richard Salgado said in a blog post.

"Before producing data in response to a government request, we make sure it strictly follows the law, for example to compel us to disclose content in criminal cases we require the government use a search warrant, and that it complies with Google's strict policies (to prevent overreach that can compromise users' privacy)."

Google doesn't really reveal information about the accounts or users, and neither does it break down to show the type of requests made.

In the latest report, the United States had the largest number of requests at 14,169, with data supplied in 79 per cent of those cases.

Germany was second with 8,788 requests, followed by France (4,300), India (3,452) and Britain (3,302).

The company said it received its first-ever requests from Algeria, Belarus, the Cayman Islands, El Salvador, Fiji and Saudi Arabia in 2016. Google did not agree to provide data in any of those requests, according to the report.

Earlier in May, Facebook had released its report revealing an increase in government requests for account data by 13 per cent in the second half of 2015. The United States and India topped that list. Government requests for account data increased to 46,763 compared to 41,214 in the first half of the year.

Facebook said in its report that about 60 per cent of requests in the United States had a non-disclosure order prohibiting the company from notifying the user of the government request. It was for the first time Facebook has included details on non-disclosure orders since it started issuing the global requests reports in 2013.


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