LegalRegulationSurveillance-IT

US And German Governments Make Most Google Data Requests

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Google + Linkedin Subscribe to our newsletter Write a comment

Record number of government data requests around the world with the US seeking the most information

Google’s latest Transparency Report has revealed a record number of data requests from courts, law enforcement agencies and governments around the world.

The search giant has been publishing these requests for a number of years now and the most recent edition contained no surprises when it revealed that worldwide data requests during the second half of 2015 passed 40,000 for the first time.

This is compared to 35,365 requests in the first half of 2015, and 30,140 for last six months of 2014.

Record Number

Government servicesGoogle also provided a country by country breakdown of the data requests, which revealed that the United States leads the world in requesting user data. In the last six months of 2015, it submitted 12,523 requests for data from 27,157 Google users. Google provided (some) information in 79 percent of those cases.

For comparison purposes, in the first half of 2015, the US had submitted 12,002 requests.

And behind the United States, Germany was found to have submitted a total of 7,491 requests in the second half of 2015, up from 3,903 in the first half of 2015.

France was third with 4,174 requests (up from 3,489), and the UK fourth with 3,497 (up from 3,146).

India was also curious about its citizens after it submitted 3,265 requests (up from 3,087).

“Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world,” said Google.

Data PrivacyAnd the firm said that it was pleased about recent improvements in surveillance laws, most notably the revised Privacy Shield agreement between the United States and European Union, that includes stricter rules on surveillance of European citizens.

“Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act into law, which Google strongly supported,” the company added. “The law creates a process for extending procedural protections under the Privacy Act of 1974 to non-US persons. 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.”

Privacy Issues

Privacy remains a touchy subject for many, as evidenced by Facebook’s ongoing battle with the Belgian data protection watchdog.

Earlier this month, Facebook won an appeal against a court ruling in that country that could have exposed it to massive fines for alleged violations of users’ privacy.

Meanwhile the Brexit decision by Britsh voters has also raised data protection concern for firms based in this country, which are handling British data.

What do you know about privacy? Try our quiz!