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Kosovo and Albania demand user data from Google

Kosovo and Albania are amongst the first nine countries that demanded user data for the first time from Google, according to the Internet giant’s latest transparency report, the other countries include The Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Maldives, Namibia, and Nepal.

This is the 10th time Google has released numbers on government data requests. Each time, the number of requests has risen sharply reflecting Google’s growth as a company as well as governments increasing use of the company’s data in criminal investigations. Similar requests from governments and courts around the world to hand over user data are sent to other technology companies as well.

The roughly 32,000 requests Google fielded in the first six months of 2014 were up 15 percent from the previous six months, and up 150 percent since the company started publishing its transparency report in 2009. The growth was faster in the United States, with 19 percent growth in the first half of 2014 versus the previous six months, and up 250 percent since 2009.

Google’s transparency report and its effort to shed light on how laws and policies affect Internet users and the flow of information online has several portions to it. The one released Monday highlights the number of times a government demanded that Google hand over user information as part of a criminal investigation. The data includes governments from around the world and of all sizes, including everything from small-town police departments to federal intelligence agencies. The company complied, in part or whole, about 65 percent of the time, according to the report.

This increase in government demands comes against a backdrop of ongoing revelations about government surveillance programs, wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director for law enforcement and information security, in a blog post. Despite these revelations, we have seen some countries expand their surveillance authorities in an attempt to reach service providers outside their borders.

The United States is far and away the most prolific in its demands, accounting for about 40 percent of the demands for user data. That is actually an undercount: Google is allowed to report only 1,000-increment ranges for certain the United States national security requests.