Google holds a lot of our data. From extensive email records and YouTube viewing histories, to G+ social network posts and expansive search histories — all of this data could possibly be incriminating. The company is tightening the safeguards when it comes to government data requests, and those requests are tracked diligently in its transparency reports.
Since Edward Snowden leaked information exposing the PRISM program, tech companies have been fighting hard to win back the trust of users. Google has been releasing data about government requests since 2010, well before Snowden’s leaks, by frequently updating their reports. Google has also been taking even more active steps by filing suit against the federal government over the ability to disclose information about FISA requests.
In the most recent update to the transparency report, Google notes a sharp uptick in requests for data related to criminal investigations. “Government requests for user information in criminal cases have increased by about 120 percent since we first began publishing these numbers in 2009,” writes Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director for law enforcement and information security on the company’s official blog.
Google is doubling down (or is that tripling down?) on its drive to expose everything it legally can about data requests. “We consistently push back against overly broad requests for your personal information, but it’s also important for laws to explicitly protect you from government overreach. That’s why we’re working alongside eight other companies to push for surveillance reform, including more transparency,” writes Salgado.
Google continues pushing to expose these requests at every turn. The company may not be able to stop them, but the more awareness they bring to the issue, the harder it’s going to be for the government to continue making broad blanket requests. Not only is Google pushing for reform but it’s currying public favor with cute little videos that lay the process bare: