Google has released its latest transparency report, revealing that the US government's requests for user data have risen 19% since the second half of last year and 250% since 2009, the year the company first started publishing transparency data. Worldwide, the increases were 15% and 150%, respectively.
"This increase in government demands comes against a backdrop of ongoing revelations about government surveillance programs", said Google's Legal Director Richard Salgado in a blog post, adding that despite the revelations, some countries have in fact expanded their surveillance authorities in an attempt to reach service providers outside their borders.
The Mountain View, California-based company received a total of 31,698 government data requests in the first half of 2014, affecting over 48,000 accounts. The list was topped by the US with 12,539 requests, followed by Germany, France, and India, with 3,338, 3,002, and 2,794 requests, respectively. The company said it provided data in around 65% of those cases.
The aforementioned figures do not include requests received under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or in the form of National Security Letters.
Google said it understands that governments have a legitimate and important role in fighting crime and investigating national security threats, but asked for legislative reform to maintain public confidence in both government and technology.
The search giant said the Electronic Communications Privacy Act should be updated to make it clear that the government must obtain a search warrant before it can compel a service provider to disclose the content of a user’s communication. In addition, Google also urged lawmakers to enact into law the USA FREEDOM Act, which would prevent the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various legal authorities.