Google in its latest biannual transparency report reveals that it has received more government requests for user data in the first half of this year than ever before. It also admits it’s significantly underreported the number of non-US accounts targeted by US intelligence.
Because of Google’s massive ecosystem, these requests would mean handing over data on content like your Gmail messages, documents you’ve saved, videos watched on YouTube, or any web activity that falls under Google’s umbrella.
The number of requests that Google received from India in the first half of 2017 for disclosing user data was at an all-time high, reports ET.
Between January 1 and June 30 this year, Google received 3,843 requests for data from 6,343 accounts from government agencies, courts and parties in civil litigation in India, according to the report released on Thursday.
That is 391 more requests than the same period in 2016 during which it received 3,452 requests for data from 6,207 accounts. However, Google provided some data for 54% of requests for the January 1-June 30 period.
Between July 2016 and December 2016, it received 3,449 requests for data from 6,393 accounts. Google complied with 57% of the requests then.
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Globally, major tech companies, including Google and Apple, have reported experiencing a sharp increase in government requests to get access to users’ private information.
As per a report published in ZDNet, about half the requests come from the US government. Other major sources of requests include Germany, France, and the UK. Many countries in the report have made fewer than 10 requests.
Releasing transparency reports for the first half of 2017, the search behemoth said that it received a total of 48,941 requests for data affecting over 83,345 accounts from governments around the world.
Apple, focusing on the country’s stats, shared that the US government sent more than four times as many requests in the first half of 2017 versus a year ago.
“Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s director of Law Enforcement and Information Security.
The report doesn’t show US national security requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for the current period. Using Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, agencies like the NSA can force Google to hand over content from non-US citizens for foreign intelligence purposes.
The search giant is also campaigning for reforms to processes under mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) between nations, and the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
Google has previously argued that MLAT processes are too slow and wants other countries to use ECPA to access data from US providers, so long as they commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles.
Google transparency report: Website