With the increase in the usage of internet services, request for user information by Governments and courts has been steadily rising. In the wake of last weeks revelations about Yahoo’s secret legal battle with the US NSA, over customer data, latest is Google’s biannual Transparency Report which reveals the number of requests made to Google from various governments in six-month periods with certain limitations.
The tenth installment of the report sees a 150% rise in the number of requests worldwide since Google began publishing this data in 2009; already this year, the internet giant has seen government demand rise by 15% compared to the second half of last year. In the U.S., those increases are 19% and 250%, respectively, reports the Google Public Policy Blog. These do not include demands through Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and National Security Letters (NSLs).
Richard Salgado notes a slightly alarming trend, “Despite these revelations, we have seen some countries expand their surveillance authorities in an attempt to reach service providers outside their borders. Others are considering similar measures.” He adds, “The efforts of the U.S. 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.”
The report points out that the US made the maximum number of user data requests at 12539 concerning 21,576 accounts, the percentage of requests that Google has to comply with (in whole or in part) being 84%. Globally, more than 31698 requests were made in the first half of 2014, Google’s compliance percentage being 65%.
Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security at Google, wrote, “Governments have a legitimate and important role in fighting crime and investigating national security threats.” He explains further, “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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(Image Credit: mjmonty)
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