Google Says Government Data Demands Way Up

John Lister's picture

The US government and court system asked Google to provide information about more than 33,000 people in the first half of the year. The figure was a new record.

The numbers come from Google's twice-yearly "Transparency Report", which is designed to track trends in the number of requests and prompt debate about the balance between privacy and security.

For the US alone, Google received 16,823 requests for data about 33,709 users (though it's possible this may include the same user being counted twice for multiple accounts. That compared with a total of 48,941 requests about 83,485 from governments around the world. (Source:

23 Percent Rise Over Six Months

Both the number of requests and the number of people affected reached new record highs for the US and worldwide. The increase was significantly higher in the US however: a 23 percent rise in the number of requests over the second half of 2016 compared to a 7 percent rise worldwide.

It's part of a long-term trend. While the US rise was particularly high in the past six months, the number of affected users is now three times what it was in 2011, the first time Google released comparable figures.

One In Five Requests Rejected

The US figure included 9,230 requests from subpoenas; 5,201 from search warrants; 1,553 from other court orders; 475 emergency disclosure requests; 284 pen register requests (which cover records of who people have contacted); and 6,907 requests that Google preserve specific records that might be needed for future investigations.

The emergency requests don't require officials to go through the legal process, but should only be used when they are needed to prevent death or "serious physical harm." (Source:

Google produced some data in response to 81 percent of the requests, though not always all the data from a particular request. That compared to 65 percent worldwide. It's difficult to compare US and worldwide figures though as, because Google is based in the US, the government there has more legal powers over it.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find the publication of such figures useful? Are you reassured or concerned that Google complied with 81 percent of the requests (and rejected or ignored the remaining 19 percent)? Is the current legal balance of privacy and national security right when it comes to the Internet?

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nospam_5346's picture

That's why I use Startpage or DuckDuckGo for my search engines. Startpage has no data to give anyone as they don't collect data and provide a proxy link for your search results so you can go through their proxy.

And, my VPN is based outside of the US and no subject to US laws.

ronbh's picture

If you wan to be safe you need to go old school.
Use Moscow rules