EFF recently launched a campaign calling on companies to stand with their users when the government comes looking for data. (If you haven’t done so, sign our petition urging companies to provide better transparency and privacy.) This article will provide a more detailed look at one of the four categories in which a company can earn a gold star in our campaign: transparency about government requests.
We’re asking companies to do two things in order earn a gold star in the transparency category: provide reports on how often they provide data to the government, and publish their law enforcement guidelines.
First, EFF is measuring whether companies publish the number of government demands they receive for user data, whether it’s an official demand such as a warrant or an unofficial request. Google led the way in this category, and is the only company in our list currently publishing aTransparency Report. According to the report, over the course of six months Google has received 30 data requests from Israel, 71 data requests from Belgium, 1,343 data requests from the U.K. and 4,287 data requests from the U.S. As Google explains:
We believe that this raw data will give people insight into whether or not our services are accessible in a given country at a given time. Historically, information like this has not been broadly available. We hope this tool will be helpful in studies about service outages and disruptions and that other companies will make similar disclosures.
Google’s report is just a start — they are continuing to investigate providing more detailed information about the requests they receive and we have ideas about how they can do even more, but for their transparency report they received half a gold star.
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