Google Reports Spike in Government Requests for Online Data

Josh Smith | NextGov | October 26, 2011

The 25th anniversary of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act on Friday prompted a range of tech companies to call for new rules to guide how the U.S. government gains access to personal information online, and lawmakers in Congress have vowed to revise the law by the end of the year.

The latest numbers on government requests come as representatives of Google, and many other major tech companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, and Skype, meet in San Francisco for the first Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference. Attendees will examine the human-rights implications of new technologies, an issue getting renewed attention after the Arab Spring events.

At the conference's opening session on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said such events around the world should be a wake-up call for technology companies. "Activists, journalists, and bloggers are the canaries in your coal mine," he said, noting that government efforts to restrict activity online are growing. "It's a busy intersection and a lot of people want to put up traffic lights."...