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Government requests for Google data hit record high

Google rows back user data responses despite rising requests

Google is responding to a lower share of government data requests than ever before despite continued growth in data requests, which hit a new record in 2016.

In its latest transparency report Google divulged that it had received more government requests for user data in the second half of 2016 than in any other six-month period since it first began to register such requests in 2010.

Over that period requests have jumped from around 15,000 per year to just over 45,000 this year but in that time the share of requests for which Google provided data has actually declined, falling from 76% to 60%.

General counsel Kent Walker in a blog post: “In many ways, this shouldn’t be surprising. As more people use more of our services, and as we offer new ones, it is natural that we are seeing an increase in government requests. For example, Gmail had around 425 million active users in 2012 and more than one billion by 2016.”

Looking specifically at requests from the US government, the share of instances in which it has obliged by returning data has reduced from 94% in the second half of 2010 to 79% in the latest six month period.

Google recently surpassed Apple to be crowned as the world's most valuable brand.