Skip to main content

Google's exposes the extent of government surveillance

In its latest transparency report, Google has revealed how often international governments request user data information from the search company.

According to the report, between 1 July and 21 December 2015, the company was asked to disclose user data 40,677 times. These requests involved the accounts of 81,311 users which is a drastic increase from the 35,365 requests it received over the course of the first half of the year.

Google's report showed that the US was one of the top countries making surveillance requests. During the time period from July to December 2015, it made 12,523 requests issued from over 27,167 users.

The other countries in the top 5 bracket in surveillance requests were Germany with 7,491 requests, France with 4,174 requests, the UK with 3,497 requests and India with 3,265 requests.

Google admitted that in 64 per cent of the cases, it complied with governments' requests to provide user data. This figure illustrates how the company has been handing over less data since in 2010 in complied 76 per cent of the time.

Google's legal director of law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado expressed the company's views on the new Privacy Shield agreement, saying: “We're pleased with some of the improvements we've seen in surveillance laws. The European Commission and the United States recently agreed on the Privacy Shield agreement, which includes new undertakings covering procedural protections for surveillance efforts.”

“This shift helps address concerns about the ability of non-US persons to redress grievances concerning data collected and stored by the US government under US law.”

Image Credit: antb / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.