The United States remains far ahead of all governments who request user information from Google according to the company’s latest Transparency Report (July through December 2012) which was released on Wednesday.
American government agencies (including federal, state, and local authorities) made over 8,400 requests for nearly 15,000 accounts—far exceeding India, the next largest country in terms of information requests. In 88 percent of those queries, Google complied with at least some, if not all, of the request.
For the first time, the search giant is also breaking down the type of legal requests that were made.
Google said that 22 percent of those requests were made under probable cause driven search warrants delivered via the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Authorities have also been known to request information using ECPA suboenas, which are much easier to obtain. It is unclear how many of the subpoenas or warrants that Google complied with—the company has only said it complied in part or in full to 88 percent of total requests from American authorities.
“In order to compel us to produce content in Gmail we require an ECPA search warrant,” said Chris Gaither, Google spokesperson. “If they come for registration information, that’s one thing, but if they ask for content of email that’s another thing.” …