Google received more than 8,000 requests for user data from the U.S. government in the second half of 2012, and nearly all of them were the result of a subpoena or search warrant. The number of those requests that the company complied with by producing some or all of the data in question is still relatively high, at 88 percent, but declined slightly from the first half of last year.
The data on government requests is part of the Google Transparency Report, which the company produces a couple of times a year to show how often Google gets these requests and what kind of response the company sends back. In the last six months of 2012, Google received 8,438 requests for user data from the U.S. government, all but 758 of which were accompanied by a subpoena or search warrant.
Overall, the company received more than 21,000 user data requests from governments around the world, 66 percent of which the company complied with. The level of data that the company sends back in reply to these requests varies, but Google doesn’t break that out other than to say than to say it complied with the request completely or in part.
The company said it is getting more and more requests for user data all the time.
“User data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009, as you can see in our new visualizations of overall trends. In total, we received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users from July through December 2012,” said Richard Salgado, legal director for law enforcement and information security.
Google is one of the few companies that publish reports of this kind, and has been doing so since 2009. Twitter also produces a transparency report, showing how many user data requests it receives as well as how many it complies with. Twitter’s volume of requests is far lower than Google’s, with the company only getting 849 in the first half of 2012. The overwhelming majority of those requests came from the U.S.