Google celebrated "Data Privacy Day," which is today, according to Google, by explaining its practice of turning over data to the government. Last week, Google revealed that it complies with government requests for data 88 percent of the time.
- We scrutinize the request carefully to make sure it satisfies the law and our policies. For us to consider complying, it generally must be made in writing, signed by an authorized official of the requesting agency and issued under an appropriate law.
- We evaluate the scope of the request. If it’s overly broad, we may refuse to provide the information or seek to narrow the request. We do this frequently.
- We notify users about legal demands when appropriate so that they can contact the entity requesting it or consult a lawyer. Sometimes we can’t, either because we’re legally prohibited (in which case we sometimes seek to lift gag orders or unseal search warrants) or we don’t have their verified contact information.
- We require that government agencies conducting criminal investigations use a search warrant to compel us to provide a user’s search query information and private content stored in a Google Account—such as Gmail messages, documents, photos and YouTube videos. We believe a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure and overrides conflicting provisions in ECPA.
And third, we work hard to provide you with information about government requests. Today, for example, we’ve added a new section to our Transparency Report that answers many questions you might have. And last week we released data showing that government requests continue to rise, along with additional details on the U.S. legal processes—such as subpoenas, court orders and warrants—that government use to compel us to provide this information.
We’re proud of our approach, and we believe it’s the right way to make sure governments can pursue legitimate investigations while we do our best to protect your privacy and security.