Google’s Director for information security and law enforcement matters, Richard Salgado, recently laid bare the extent of government requests for information from the company. Google has been sharing data about governments requesting the data it holds since 2010 as a part of its transparency report.
According to Salgado, Google can’t release statistics on the requests from the US government because they are Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests. A selection of graphs reveal the frequency of requests, of which the US makes more of than the next six countries in the top ten, combined.
Most conspicuous of the graphs is one that is completely blacked out, as if it were a redacted excerpt from a secret government file. Clearly Google’s intent is to alert its users to the shadiness, if not the exact volume, of FISA requests. The graph is subtitled “The U.S. government contends that we cannot share this information.”
This is not simple hand-wringing on the part of Google, they have been pursuing a federal court case to allow them to release FISA data. It included a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsing two bills currently in congress. The letter is signed by many nonprofits and tech companies, including Wordpress and Microsoft.
Google is starting to push back aggressively against not only the US government and governments around the world as well. The company advised governments “ […] to uphold international legal agreements that respect the laws of different countries and guarantee that standards of due process are met.”
It seems that after three years of rising requests, over 10,000 from the US in the first two quarters of 2013, Google is stepping up its efforts to keep users informed.
Salgado closes with a promise “To continue to make this report robust, to defend your information from overly broad government requests.”