Google transparency report shows over half of government requests are warantless


The latest Google Transparency Report shows that 68% of government requests for information on an individual user are warrantless. In a post on Google’s official blog releasing the report, the company noted that the government is continuing its steady increase in requests for user information. The company has been sharing the report since 2010, and reflects a constant increase since. For the first time the company is also sharing the legal process by which governments come to request information about individuals without a warrant.

This report covers the period between July and December 2012. In that range, Google says 68% of the requests received from government entities in the US were through subpoenas. They explain that these are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.

An additional 22% of requests also come under the ECPA, but are officially search warrants. These warrants were issued by a judge based on probable cause presented by the US government. The remaining 10% come through court orders. The blog post includes charts representing various spikes in such activity as well as the types of requests that come through.

The company is reporting a 70% increase for such information since 2009. During the period of this report the company received over 21,000 such requests. Within the broader report individuals can drill down to their home country if they reside outside of the US and also download the data for their own use.

The report points users to a new website- which provides information on citizen rights under these requests and also calls for additional transparency and notices before such a request is executed.

A report about content removals is forthcoming.