Google registers dip in data requests from Australian police

Australia bucks worldwide trend in Google transparency report

Australian law enforcement requests for data about users of Google’s services dipped in the six months ending June 2014 compared to six months earlier, the search giant’s latest transparency report reveals.

Between January and June 2014, Google received 752 requests from Australian law enforcement agencies, the transparency report reveals. Those requests covered 844 users or accounts.

Google provided law enforcement organisations with data in two-thirds of the cases.

In the six months ending December 2013, Google received 780 requests covering 944 users/accounts. However, the most recent statistics represent an increase from the corresponding period in 2013, where the company’s data revealed 645 requests relating to 805 users.

Australia bucked the trend in the most recent transparency report, with Google overall reporting an increase of more than 4200 requests from police agencies covering almost 6000 more accounts than requests in the six months ending to December 2013.

The decline in Australian requests contrasts to the 19 per cent increase in US requests for data reported by Google.

“Worldwide, the numbers continue to rise: excluding FISA [US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and NSL [US National Security Letters] demands, we’ve seen a 15% increase since the second half of last year, and a 150% jump since we first began publishing this data in 2009. In the U.S., those increases are 19% and 250%, respectively,” wrote Richard Salgado, legal director, law enforcement and information security for Google, in an entry for the search company’s Public Policy Blog.

“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. 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.”

Earlier this month Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, published 12-month transparency report.

Read more: Sweeping security law would have computer users surrender privacy

In the 12 months to 30 June 2014, Telstra received close to 85,000 requests from government agencies for customer information . Of these, the overwhelming majority did not involve warrants, the telco revealed.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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