The number of government requests for user information from Google reached new highs in the second half of last year, according to the company?EU?s latest transparency report. The United States was far and away the biggest source of information requests during the six-month period, with 12,523 separate requests covering 27,157 different user accounts.
That’s almost twice the number of requests from Germany, the second biggest source of data requests with 7,491, and more than three times that of France, which made only 4,174 requests during the same period.
Transparency reports like those pioneered by Google are incredibly valuable because they create a baseline to help all of us understand how government gathers data about citizens, Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy, Center for Democracy & Technology, told us via email.
“For example, this report demonstrates an increase in government requests and highlights the need to ensure that human rights protections are built into surveillance laws worldwide so that privacy rights are interfered with only when strictly necessary,” he said.
The stats reflect the number of law enforcement agency requests for information received by Google and YouTube. Google, which reviews each request to ensure that it complies with both the spirit and the letter of the law, said that it could refuse to produce information or try to narrow the requests in some cases.
The number of requests Google receives from governments has increased steadily every year since the second half of 2009, when it received about the same number of requests from governments worldwide as it received from the U.S. in the last six months of 2015, according to the transparency report.
The company also began reporting the percentage of requests it complied with either in whole or in part. While the number of requests has risen sharply, the share…