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Government Surveillance Growing, According To Google 105

SternisheFan writes with news that Google has updated is Transparency Report for the sixth time, and the big takeaway this time around is a significant increase in government surveillance. From the article: "In a blog post, Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou says, ' [G]overnment demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report.' In the first half of 2012, the period covered in the report, Chou says there were 20,938 inquiries from government organizations for information about 34,614 Google-related accounts. Google has a long history of pushing back against governmental demands for data, going back at least to its refusal to turn over search data to the Department of Justice in 2005. Many other companies have chosen to cooperate with government requests rather than question or oppose them, but Chou notes that in the past year, companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Twitter have begun making government information requests public, to inform the discussion about Internet freedom and its limits. According to the report, the U.S. continues to make the most requests for user data, 7,969 in the first six months of the year. Google complied with 90% of these requests. Google's average compliance rate for the 31 countries listed in the report is about 47%."
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Government Surveillance Growing, According To Google

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  • by heypete ( 60671 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:50PM (#41974805) Homepage

    More and more of people's lives take place on the internet.

    Things that used to be ephemeral (telephone calls, letters, etc.) are becoming long-lived (emails, social networking posts, instant messages, etc.) and are useful investigative toosl.

    Previously the police needed to get telephone records and then analyze the calling records to form connections. With social networks like Facebook, people do it for them.

    Can the authorities abuse their position of power for various nefarious deeds? Absolutely. Are some of their requests legally or ethically dubious? No doubt. Nevertheless, there's plenty of legitimate reasons for governments to request user information and it should come as no surprise that the number of such requests is increasing.

    That said, it's nice to see that major players like Google are quantifying the requests and the reasons behind them, as well as pushing back against such demands.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:53PM (#41974835)
    Most things are worse when the government does it.
  • Google Should Know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:58PM (#41974889)
    Whatever happened to "Don't be evil"? And how many tens of thousands of enquiries from "government agencies" does one have to receive before one is not acting as a subject but rather as an arm of that same government. And, at what point do people have to say "enough"?
  • by BMOC ( 2478408 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:31PM (#41975243)
    Thanks to Bush and Obama for their secret interpretations of various parts of FISA + Patriot Act, the answer is likely no.
  • by BMOC ( 2478408 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:38PM (#41975307)

    Well I seem to recall the following things being quite bad when the government does them:

    - Phones
    - Electricity
    - Television/Radio Decency Standards
    - Drug enforcement
    - Energy planning
    - Political News Reporting
    - Overall News Reporting
    - Responding to Crises (Katrina, Gulf Oil Spill, Sandy)
    - Respect for Personal Property
    - Crime Investigation

    Road Building, Defense, Fire Departments, and health care usually get tonnes of money thrown at them. For the price paid, Government generally does a terrible job on those as well. But because we overspend, it's arguable they do a good job of it. If you want to see government employees disappointing you, go find some area where they're paid badly, or have budgets that are being scaled back regularly.

  • by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:42PM (#41975347)

    America's roads and bridges are crumbling as we rebuild them in Iraq.

    Defense hasn't been defense in an awfully long time, it's the Department of Offense. And they spend trillions to blow up tents in the middle of nowhere.

    Medicare accounts for half of all healthcare spending in this country, and only covers a small portion of us.

    Fire departments are run locally, and the only thing on this list which is run reasonably well.

    I think it's safe to say that the federal government does things pretty poorly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:05PM (#41975535)

    Amazing. So people who are underpaid on missions that are underfunded don't perform as well as YOU would like them to? I'll alert the media.

    You complain government does things badly, cite some good examples mixed in with some pretty questionable ones, and just know you're right, huh?

    You know that outside the "all government is always bad" bubble that there are people in this country who, to this day, would not have electricity or phones were it not for government action. You cite two disasters and throw in one very recent politicized one where most failures have been PRIVATE (power, gas, fuel) and you blame government for not fixing what they don't control? Oh, and your middle crisis was a direct result of private industry hubris and stupidity and you blame government for not fixing their mess? (I blame government for allowing that kind of drilling in the first place, but that's another matter.)

    I practically turn purple railing against overly intrusive "law enforcement" tactics by government thugs. I know that law enforcement is the cause of massive amounts of ruined lives and ended lives. I know we need to strip them of their power, badly. I also know that other kinds of things government does actually work, and I really know that a lack of objective analysis coupled with plenty of self delusion leads to some very interesting results. I think the person you most likely voted for in the presidential election learned that the hard way recently.

  • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:35PM (#41977001) Journal

    the following things being quite bad when the US government does them:


    Many other governments around the world manage these things reasonably effectively. Your government seems more ideological/theological/tribally driven than most, which makes practical approaches to service provision less likely.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan