Google's latest transparency report displays a continued increase in data requests the company received from government authorities. During the period from January 2015 until June 2015, the search giant received 4,677 requests for user data from law enforcement agencies worldwide, the largest number of data requests that the company has ever received.
“Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers,” a Google blog post about the report.
Transparency reports have become an essential tool for privacy advocates to learn more about the extent of digital criminal investigations, as a rising number of tech companies are publishing reports, including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, WordPress, Microsoft, Cisco, Reddit, Snapchat, Github, and CloudFlare, among others.
The latest report measured Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act (FISA) requests, National Security Letters (NSLs) are requests, and criminal investigation requests such as requests requiring search warrants and subpoenas.
During the time period, U.S. authorities made 12,523 requests for user data involving 27,157 accounts. Seventy-nine percent of the requests resulted in the search company turning over data to authorities.
Omer Tene, vice president of research and education at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) noted that European countries such as Germany and France submit significantly more government requests than U.S., relative to the population. “This puts in perspective the concerns of European privacy regulators over data transfers to the U.S.,” he wrote in an email to SCMagazine.com.Tene also observed that countries such as Russia and Turkey -- both of which boast strong security services -- made a limited number of data requests.