Google says it rebuffs more data demands

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is rebuffing governments more frequently as authorities in the United States and other countries get more aggressive about mining the Internet for information about people’s online activities.

The latest snapshot emerged Thursday in a report the company has released every six months for three years. Other companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo, have since followed Google’s practice of disclosing government requests for personal data, which cover things like e-mails and search queries.

The breakdown for the first half of this year shows Google got 25,879 requests from governments around the world — a 21 percent increase from the six months before that. It was also more than twice the number of government requests Google was fielding at the end of 2009.


US authorities accounted for 10,918 of the requests. They came from federal authorities as well as police departments. The number has nearly tripled since the end of 2009.

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‘‘And these numbers only include the requests we’re allowed to publish,’’ wrote Google executive Richard Salgado.

The report did not give specifics about the number of orders Google gets through a confidential US court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to fight terrorism.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo all are suing for the right to share more detailed information about FISA demands made by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They believe more forthrightness will ease privacy concerns raised by NSA documents that depicted them as willing participants in the US spy program PRISM.

The Obama administration is opposing the lawsuits.


Google’s disclosures show it is rejecting a higher percentage of government demands than it was when it began releasing the figures three years ago. In the first half of this year, Google provided some of the data sought in 83 percent of the government requests in the United States. For the same period in 2010, compliance was 93 percent. Worldwide compliance rates were lower but showed a similar downward trend. Foreign governments sending Google the most requests were in India, Germany, and France.