Google Transparency Report Shows Government Requests Doubled in Just Three Years

Google’s latest transparency report is brazenly unsympathetic to government requests. The technology giant released this graphic today showing the amount of users’ data requests with one notable blacked out box indicating information that’s not legal to share (FISA).

Even without the mysterious data, we can see that government requests have jumped dramatically over the past four years, with the US leading other countries by a wide margin. Compared to this time period in 2009, government requests have nearly doubled from 12,539 to 25,879. Keep in mind, however, these are only the requests Google is allowed to publish.

We want to go even further. We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. 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. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.

Unlike previous transparency reports, users can now see the types of data requests being made, which appears to be mostly search warrants and subpoenas (9,914).  Here is an example of the type of information that might be disclosed, based on the type of legal requests for Google’s email platform platform:


For Gmail


  • Subscriber registration information (e.g., name, account creation information, associated email addresses, phone number)
  • Sign-in IP addresses and associated time stamps

Court Order:

  • Non-content information (such as non-content email header information)
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena

Search Warrant:

  • Email content
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena or court order

To read the full report, go here.