U.S. government requests for Google user data jump
October 25, 2011 | 11:20 am
The U.S. government wants your information.
It's flooding Google with requests for personal information about
users for criminal investigations, according to a so-called
transparency report the Internet search giant released Tuesday.
The number of such requests jumped 29% in six months, Google reported.
U.S. government agencies sent Google 5,950 criminal investigation
requests during the first half of 2011 compared with 4,601 requests
during the last six months of 2010. Google complied in part or
completely with 93% of those requests which can include court orders
The number of users and accounts affected: 11,057.
"For the first time, we're not only disclosing the number of requests
for user data, but we're showing the number of users or accounts that
are specified in those requests too. We also recently released the raw
data behind the requests. Interested developers and researchers can
now take this data and revisualize it in different ways, or mash it up
with information from other organizations to test and draw up new
hypotheses about government behaviors online," Dorothy Chou, a Google
senior policy analyst, wrote in a blog post.
Google said it also received 92 requests to remove 757 pieces of
content from its services including YouTube. Google complied in part
or completely with 63% of those requests.
Google has an agenda here. It wants to spread this kind of information
-- albeit incomplete as it does not include certain terrorism-related
requests -- to push for reform of federal laws that give law
enforcement unfettered access to online communications without a
"We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to
modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which
regulates government access to user information and was written 25
years ago -- long before the average person had ever heard of email,"