Google released their government request statistics today, showing a marked increase in the number of queries made. The transparency report shows that in the last half of 2013, law enforcement agencies made 27,000 requests affecting over 42,000 accounts. Google also created a video on the matter of government requests made to them, attempting to simplify the process to us.
The increase is requests has jumped over 100% in the past four years, which Google’s Legal Director Richard Salgado says is due to “more and more governments start[ing] to exercise their authority to make requests”. While the requests have risen, the data shows the number of accounts affected has started to plateau. Google only started discussing the number of accounts requested in 2011, so it’s hard to say if this type of plateau effect is an anomaly, or a trend.
The video released by Google is a cartoonish look at the process of Government requests made. In it, we find a mysterious figure making scary requests for information about us, and Google attempting to parse information out correctly. There are some subtle digs in there, too (the “other guy” is a blue building with a cow — Facebook and Farmville, much?), but it’s still a pretty neat way to explain what’s going on. We’ve included it below for your viewing pleasure.
Google can’t disclose specifics, obviously, but they have set a trend in noting the grand scope of government reach. Google is also unable to report on bulk surveillance done by the likes of the NSA, as they’re legally prohibited from discussing such matters. It should be noted that in addition to the transparency report, Google is advocating for the ability to allow better transparency in their reporting.