This week Google is releasing an new report on what they’re able to share about official Government requests for data across the second half of the year 2012. This is not the first report Google has done on such data, this type of report spanning back (in one way or another) to their first in 2010. What we’re seeing in this newest report is a rather sizable increase in the number of requests Google is getting from the government, but an ever-so-slight decrease in the percentage of these requests Google ends up filling.
This Transparency Report shows that 68 percent of the requests Google receives from government entities are subpoenas issued under the ECPA. That’s the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and are requests for user-identifying information. Google notes that these are “the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.” Next on the list for most-requested are orders from judges under ECPA, that taking up 22% of the whole – these requests are based on “probable cause” that, “certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.”
The final 10 percent comes in under what Google suggests are from orders under the ECPA that are simply difficult to categorize. The total amount or requests received by Google for information about users was 21,389, this amount sitting between the months of July and December of 2012. The amount of users those requests regarded was 33,634 – this letting us know that some requests (quite a few, actually), were about several users at once.
The summary you see above shows that the number of requests has gone up since the last reporting period – 12/31/2011 that is, but the percentage of requests where Google produced data in response has gone down – now a lot closer to 75% than the near 90% they were at back at the end of 2010. It’s also important to note that these requests do not include those made to remove data, only to view data – takedown requests are a different situation entirely!