More governments seeking data from Google

The number of governments around the world requesting data, including user information, from Google Inc., has jumped more than 70 per cent since 2009, according to the Internet search giant.

Tallies from Google’s biannual transparency report indicate that for the six months covering July through December last year, the company received 21,389 information requests for some 33,634 users. The figures show a slight increase from the 20,938 request for 34,615 user information in the first half of 2013.

The United States held its lead as the country responsible for the most government data request with 8,438 in the second half of 2012, up six per cent from 7,969 during the first half of the year. A distant second was India, which made 2,431 requests. The government that made the smallest number of requests was Denmark which made only 34.

No less that 68 per cent of the requests made in the U.S. were done through subpoenas, Google said. These requests were for user-identifying information under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Subpoena requests, Google said, are the easiest to obtain because they often do not need to be reviewed by a judge.

Google has been disclosing data when requested by governments since 2010. While its report covers criminal matters, the company said it cannot be certain that requests are for criminal investigations.

Battered by frequent complaints over violation of privacy, Google last year announced it was creating a “privacy team” to ensure that privacy risks and breaches are eliminated

In the past Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has repeatedly singled out Google for its failure to protect users’ private information.

Stoddart even teamed up with nine other privacy authorities from other countries in calling on Google to take into account users’ privacy when launching new applications and services.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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