Australian government demand for Google users' data spikes

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Australian government demand for Google users' data spikes

Criminal investigations mostly.

The number of requests by Australian government agencies for access to users and their data on Google's different services is rapidly rising, the search giant's latest Transparency Report shows.

For the July to December 2012 period, 584 requests were made "for disclosure of user data from Google accounts or services" the report says.

During the same time, 711 requests for user accounts were made by various Australian government agencies. 

For 2012, Australian governmental authorities made a total of 1107 requests for user data and 1552 for account details.

In 2011, the figures were 805 and 908 respectively, showing an increase for 2012 of 37 percent in the former category and 71 percent in the latter.

Australia's governments are the seventh most frequent requester of user data in the world, and number nine for account details, the Transparency Report shows. United States tops the list for both categories, followed by India.

Google complied with two thirds of the Australian requests in 2012, fully or partially.


Government user data requests. Source: Google Transparency Report

The search company does not specify the exact nature of the government requests for information but says the Transparancy Reports primarily cover requests in criminal matters.

However, Google adds that it "can't always be sure that a request necessarily relates to a criminal investigation" and believes a small number of those fall outside that category, such as government agencies seeking information on persons whose lives may be in peril.

If it is possible and legal to do so, Google notifies users whose data and account details have been requested by government agencies.

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