Google grants 72 per cent of UK Government data requests


Google has revealed it granted 72 per cent of Government requests for user data in its latest transparency report.

The figures showed 1,162 requests had been made by numerous law enforcement agencies as part of criminal investigations between July and December 2010. During that time, more than 800 pieces of user data were handed over.

A Google spokesperson told IT Pro's sister title Cloud Pro the requests related to user accounts or products including YouTube but would not reveal the exact details of what was passed on.

However, with this focus, it could include details from Gmail accounts or a number of Google Apps users.

"Requests may ask for data about a number of different users or just one user," said a Google-issued statement.

"A single request may ask for several types of data but be valid only for one type and not for another; in those cases, we disclose only the information we believe we are legally required to share."

"Given all this complexity, it's a difficult task to categorise and quantify these requests in a way that adds meaningful transparency, but we may do so in the future."

The number of requests had actually fallen in the last six months of 2010, from 1,343 between January and June. However, the report did not reveal the percentage granted in that timeframe.

The request rate and percentage of compliance was far lower than in the US, where 4,601 requests were made and 94 per cent were granted.

In France, 56 per cent of the 1,021 requests were handed over and in Germany 76 per cent of the 768 were granted.

Google stated these were only requests relating to crime so, although showing some transparency, other Government requests for user data were not covered by the report.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.