Google Transparency Report Shows Rising Trend Of Government Surveillance

Katitza Rodriguez and Rebecca Bowe | Electronic Frontier Foundation | November 15, 2012

Each year, Google receives thousands of demands from governments around the world seeking information about its users. People who use any of the search engine giant’s free online services – such as Gmail, YouTube, Google+ or Blogger – leave digital footprints behind, and information relating to their accounts is increasingly sought out by law enforcement agencies. To raise awareness about this, Google publishes a Transparency Report every six months documenting how many requests it received for user data, and from which countries. The practice was recently emulated by Twitter.

The most recent report, disclosing information requests fielded in the six-month period ending in June of 2012, is in keeping with an alarming trend. On the whole, requests for user data are on the rise. In the first half of 2012, a total of 20,938 inquiries flooded into Google from government entities around the world. The requests pertained to about 34,614 accounts. (To get a sense of the big picture, check out this interactive map charting data requests by country.)