October 25, 2011, 4:36 PM — Hey, Google users, here's a comforting thought: If a U.S. government agency or court requests information about you from Google, there's only a 93% chance that the search giant will comply.
Don't you feel more secure already?
Google's Transparency Report issued new data on government requests showing that the U.S. sought user data from the search company in nearly 6,000 cases during the first half of this year -- far, far more than any other government in the world.
From January 1 to June 30, U.S. government agencies and courts submitted 5,950 user data requests to Google regarding 11,057 separate users and/or accounts (up from 4,601 requests in the second half of 2010). Google complied -- either fully or partially -- with 93% of these requests.
A distant No. 2 is India, which made 1,739 requests for user data in the first two quarters of 2011, with France in third place at 1.300 requests.
Google's U.S. "cooperation" rate of 93% also was tops, followed by Japan and Brazil at 87% compliance. But those countries submitted far fewer requests (75 and 703) than the intensely curious U.S. government.
Google said the "number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year."
"The increase isn’t surprising," Google said, "since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users."
Plus, with Occupy Wall Street gaining steam, the second half of this year should be a banner one for U.S. government user data requests.
Google assures us that it reviews "each request to make sure that it complies with both the spirit and the letter of the law, and we may refuse to produce information or try to narrow the request in some cases."
The search giant says it hopes the Transparency Report's Government Request tool "will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe."
What would shine more light, Google, would be some examples of government requests that were rejected by you outright. Let's find out what the U.S. government wants to know about users outside the context of a criminal investigation.