updated 04:05 pm EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
US tops list of countries requesting user data from Google
Requests for user information received by Google from government agencies have increased 120 percent since 2009, according to the search company's latest transparency report. The quantity of requests in the second half of 2013 reached an all-time high of 27,477, up from 25,879 for the first half of the year, while the percentage of requests where some data is provided has reached its lowest point since the report began, with 64 percent.
In a blog post explaining the issues Google faces concerning privacy and government requests, Legal Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security Richard Salgado notes "Though our number of users has grown throughout the time period, we're also seeing more and more governments start to exercise their authority to make requests."
Google has also made an update in the way it reports results, after working with eight other companies to push for surveillance reform and increased transparency. It has expanded the scope of its country results to include governments that made less than 30 requests in a six-month reporting period, as well as those requesting more than 30 times as before
The United States tops the list of countries requesting data, with 10,574 requests affecting 18,254 accounts in the last six months of 2013 alone, with 83 percent resulting in data being provided. This is actually lower than the first half of 2013, when the US asked 10,918 times and affecting 21,683 accounts, with the same success rate. France, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom follow after the US, requesting 2,750, 2,660, 2,513, and 1,397 times respectively.
In an attempt to explain how Google protects user data from government requests, the company has also released a video that shows the way a request is processed before being handed to law enforcement.