US, Germany, France top Google Transparency Report user data requests

© Eric Gaillard
Google’s updated Transparency Report reveals the US, Germany, France, India and the UK governments were the worst offenders for requesting users’ information.

The US is by far the worst offender, with 30,123 of the 76,713 requests for user or account specified data coming from the US in the first half of 2016.

The latest data shows a record number of user data requests at 44,943, an increase of 4,266 from the last six months in 2015.

Google produced data for 79 percent percent of the US requests, 59 percent of Germany’s 13,425 and 60 percent of France’s 5,185 user requests. On average, Google complies with 64 percent of requests.

Richard Salgado, company director of law enforcement and information security published a blog post on the update. “When we receive a request for user information, we review it carefully and only provide information within the scope and authority of the request,” he said. “The privacy and security of the data that users store with Google is central to our approach. Before producing data in response to a government request, we make sure it follows the law and Google's policies. We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order. And if we believe a request is overly broad, we seek to narrow it – like when we persuaded a court to drastically limit a US government request for two months' of user search queries.”

The update welcomed a number of first timers to the list: Algeria, Belarus, Cayman Islands, El Salvador, Fiji and Saudi Arabia.

The tech giant is unable to reveal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests, due to a six month delay on reporting them.

“Globally, we received 44,943 government requests for information regarding 76,713 accounts during the first half of 2016.”

“For example, the same Gmail account may be specified in several different requests for user information, perhaps once in a subpoena and then later in a search warrant.”