Google Explains How It Handles Government Requests For Data; Why Don't More Companies Do This?
from the be-transparent dept
When government agencies ask for our users’ personal information—like what you provide when you sign up for a Google Account, or the contents of an email—our team does several things:This is definitely good to see -- and lots of other companies should do the same thing. However, it still remains an issue that governments can, and do, get lots of information with limited oversight -- even when companies push back.
- 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.
Speaking of which, Twitter also came out with its latest transparency report, which highlights the information requests it gets as well. Both companies are really leading the way on transparency here, but it's a shame that these stories are even newsworthy, rather than the way most large companies act.