Google this week reported a sharp increase in government data requests for the second half of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, with the majority of requests coming as a result of a federal law that doesn’t require prior judicial authorization.
Google said 21,389 user data requests were issued for the final six months of 2012 compared to 20,938 for the first half. However, during the same period of 2011, only 18,257 requests were issued, which represents a 17 percent increase.
For the first time, Google included additional detail representing the specific legal processes federal agencies went through to receive user data. A total of 68 percent of data requests came as a result of subpoenas issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The act, which was first passed in 1986 but has been revised several times since then, allows the government to obtain information without first receiving a judge’s authorization.
In addition, Google said 22 percent were the direct result of ECPA search warrants, which are generally issued by judges following a demonstration of probable cause that the information requested is directly related to a crime.
The remaining 10 percent were court orders that were difficult to categorize.
In its report, Google said user data requests overall have increased more than 70 percent since 2009.
did not include information on content removed as a result of government requests, which come for a variety of reasons based on the laws of a particular country or region within a specific country.
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