In a blog post Thursday, Google said that requests from governments for user information have doubled over three years, as the search giant posted its latest transparency report which also includes added figures on other types of requests specifically from the US government.

In a year in which government surveillance has dominated the headlines, today we’re updating our Transparency Report for the eighth time. Since we began sharing these figures with you in 2010, requests from governments for user information have increased by more than 100 percent. This comes as usage of our services continues to grow, but also as more governments have made requests than ever before. And these numbers only include the requests we’re allowed to publish.

Over the past three years, we’ve continued to add more details to the report, and we’re doing so again today. We’re including additional information about legal process for U.S. criminal requests: breaking out emergency disclosures, wiretap orders, pen register orders and other court orders.

We want to go even further. We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. However, the U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.


(Image credit: Google)

Earlier this year, Google joined with other leading technology companies in petitioning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) for increased transparency on this very issue.

And on Wednesday, the issue was a point of focus in the company’s testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.  Google warned about the lack of transparency of government surveillance and the various potential impacts on an open internet and on economic growth.

From Reuters:

Search giant Google Inc on Wednesday warned that U.S. spying operations risk fracturing the open Internet into a “splinter net” that could hurt American business.

In the first public testimony before Congress by a major technology company since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed top secret surveillance programs, Google said it should be allowed to provide the public more information about government demands for user data.

“The current lack of transparency about the nature of government surveillance in democratic countries undermines the freedom and the trust most citizens cherish, it also has a negative impact on our economic growth and security and on the promise of an Internet as a platform for openness and free expression,” Richard Salgado, Google’s law enforcement and information security director, said.

Google has also itself been the subject of criticism over privacy concerns as it has moved further into collection of data from its users for advertising purposes and other efforts, as well as some of the things its former CEO has said.


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