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Government data requests up in latest Google transparency report

Written by Jaymin Shah

Google’s latest Transparency Report is out and shows how user data requests by governments are the highest ever. The report is for the period between July and December 2015, and points out that 40,677 requests were made which impacted 81,311 user accounts. It turned out to be an increase by 18 percent compared to the first half of 2015 that impacted 68,908 accounts.

While US topped the list with 12,523 user data requests made by the government, it impacted 27,157 accounts. India saw 3,265 data requests made by the government, which impacted 5,265 accounts. This was slightly more than the first half of the year when 3,087 data requests were made. Though there was a slight drop in the first half of 2015 compared to the  period ended 2014, the second half saw the highest six monthly number we’ve ever seen. For 49 percent of requests made in the last six months of 2015, some data was produced. India stands among the top four countries with higher governments requests for user data.


The graph shows user data requests by government in India. Image: Google Transparency Report

In May, we saw Facebook release its report revealing the increase in government requests for account data by 13 percent in the second half of 2015. The United States and India topped the 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 percent of requests in the United States had a non-disclosure order prohibiting the company from notifying the user of the government request.

With deeper smartphone and Internet penetration, and how our lives are virtually available to all via our email accounts, social media usage and other online mobile data, government requests related to user data don’t seem to be curbing anytime soon, rather we won’t be surprised if they are only moving uphill.

Google also talks about some of the developments that it is pleased with. In a blogpost, Google writes that the European Commission and the United States recently agreed on the Privacy Shield agreement, which includes new undertakings covering procedural protections for surveillance efforts. President Obama had signed the Judicial Redress Act into law earlier this year, which Google strongly supported. The law creates a process for extending procedural protections under the Privacy Act of 1974 to non-U.S. persons.

“This shift helps address concerns about the ability of non-U.S. persons to redress grievances concerning data collected and stored by the U.S. government under U.S. law. Indeed, the distinctions that U.S. privacy and surveillance laws make between U.S. and non-U.S. persons are increasingly obsolete in a world where communications primarily take place over a global medium: the Internet,” the blogpost reads.

About the author

Jaymin Shah

Jaymin Shah is a tech entrepreneur. He is the Founder & CEO of TechOptimals. He has made a name for himself in the tech media world as a writer relentlessly covering Technology, in addition to a broad range of startups. Contact Jaymin at jaymin@techoptimals.com

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