Google: U.S. government requests for user information grew threefold in 3 years

WTF Google inquiries 11.14.13

Requests for Google users’ information from the U.S. government has tripled in 3 years, highlighting the growing state surveillance of electronic communications, according to figures released by Google today.

Google, which operates the world’s most popular search engine and a suite of other products such as Gmail, also reported that user information requests by governments around the world has increased by more than 100% since 2009.

Google reported receiving 10,918 requests for information on their users from the U.S. government between January and June of this year. The vast majority of the requests – 68% – are through subpoenas and 22% are through search warrants.

Notably, the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests has been redacted at the behest of the U.S. government.

“The U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s Legal Director. “But you deserve to know.”

In late September, Google, along with 27 other major online companies and dozens of civil liberties and trade organizations, sent a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees urging lawmakers to pass S. 1452 the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 and H.R. 3035 the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 that would give companies the right to publish “basic statistics about government demands for user data”.

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