Google Expands Data on Government Requests in Report

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Google Inc. expanded the information it discloses in its report on government requests for data, as the Internet-search company seeks to balance the demands of law-enforcement agencies with its need to protect user privacy.

The company will now include all countries’ emergency disclosure requests, which come from agencies seeking information to help a person in danger, Google said Thursday in a blog post. Previously, it listed such requests only from the U.S. It also will show requests to set aside information relating to a user’s account -- preserving data while the authorities go through the steps to get to a formal request.

In the six months that ended Dec. 31, Google received 30,138 requests globally for information about more than 50,585 users or accounts. The number of requests fell 4.9 percent from the first half of 2014, while the number of users or accounts involved rose by 4.1 percent.

Google, which has users around the world for its services including e-mail and Web search, provides data on government requests by region and by country. It resists many of the inquiries from governments -- the percentage of requests where some data was produced dropped to 63 percent during the second half of 2014 from 65 percent in the first half.

“We respect the important role of the government in investigating and combating security threats, and we comply with valid legal process,” the company said in the post. “At the same time, we’ll fight on behalf of our users against unlawful requests for data or mass surveillance. We also work to make sure surveillance laws are transparent, principled, and reasonable.”

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