Google Inc. (GOOG) said the number of U.S. government requests for user data jumped 37 percent to almost 11,000 in the first half of 2013, even as it lobbies the government to let it reveal more details from legal orders.
The U.S. made the most inquiries of any country, with 42 percent of the total for the period, according to the company’s transparency report. Google got 25,879 requests globally, up 24 percent from the first six months of last year and almost double the number from three years ago. Inquiries from the U.S. government have more than tripled since 2009.
Google, along with technology peers such as Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc., is pushing for permission to release more details about user-data requests that the U.S. government now protects under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Technology companies are also asking lawmakers to restrain the National Security Agency, saying they want to “counter erroneous reports” that they give intelligence agencies direct access to their servers.
“We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies,” Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director for law enforcement and information security, wrote in a blog post. “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.”
The company also is releasing some new details in this transparency report, including U.S. criminal requests, such as emergency disclosures and wiretap orders. Google also breaks out subpoenas it has received seeking information about accounts and products.
The NSA has come under mounting scrutiny in Congress and abroad in response to revelations that it has spied on foreign leaders, broken into fiber-optic cables, and gathered the e-mails and bulk phone records of Americans. Most of the spying was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Google’s report today showed that India made the second-most requests in the first half of the year, with 2,691. Germany was No. 3 with 2,311. They were followed by France, the U.K., Brazil and Italy.
The company said it is asking “governments around the world to uphold international legal agreements that respect the laws of different countries and guarantee standards for due process are met.”
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