Latest Google Transparency Report Shows 150 Percent Increase In Government Data Demands

We already know that Uncle Sam is keeping tabs on us, or at least those of us who might trigger a red flag for one reason or another. The question is, to what degree? We might never know the full answer to that, though we can parse together bits and pieces to get an idea. For example, Google's latest transparency report reveals that government requests for user data have risen 150 percent over the past five years.

This is the tenth time Google has updated its transparency report, and in the latest version, Google shares the number of government demands for user information in criminal investigations during the first half of 2014. It also covers demands for user information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and through National Security Letters (NSLs).

Google Transparency Graph
Source: Google

The numbers are going up. Not counting FISA and NSL demands, Google reports a 15 increase since the second half of last year, and a 150 percent jump since it began publishing this data back in 2009. In the U.S, those figures are even higher -- 19 percent and 250 percent, respectively, Google says.

"This increase in government demands comes against a backdrop of ongoing revelations about government surveillance programs. Despite these revelations, we have seen some countries expand their surveillance authorities in an attempt to reach service providers outside their borders," Google says. "Others are considering similar measures. The efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice and other countries to improve diplomatic cooperation will help reduce the perceived need for these laws, but much more remains to be done."

Image Source: Flickr (brlonv)

Google contends that legislative reform is needed to make sure surveillance powers are transparent, reasonable, and subject to independent oversight. One piece of legislation in particular that Google backs is the USA Freedom Act introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Lee (R-UT), Franken (D-MN),a nd Heller (R-NV). The USA Freedom Act would prevent the bulk collection of Internet metadata and allow Google to be more transparent about the volume, scope, and type of national security demands it receives, Google says.

You can read the full report here.