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Technology Data and Privacy Transparency Report

Apple and Google see surge in US government user data requests


By John Glenday | Reporter

October 3, 2017 | 3 min read

Apple and Google have reported a surge in requests from the US government to obtain user data after requests for such material surged to a six-year high in the first half of 2017 - after hitting their previous record high just six months ago.

Apple, Google

Apple & Google see surge in US government user data requests

In Google’s case the number of such requests rose to 48,902, a 24% increase over the final six months of 2016. Over at Apple the jump was even more pronounced with a 62% increase in user requests, although the absolute number was far lower at just 6,407.

Globally the Google figures revealed a similar story with user requests also on the increase, although at a slower rate, with a 14% rise over the period – with South Korea, Spain and Brazil all registering above average increases.

A separate report published by Apple found that their own increase could largely be attributed to phishing investigations, with account requests ranging from iCloud content such as photos and emails to contacts and calendars.

Campaign group Privacy International warn that these rises could be an indication of bigger increases yet to come with executive director Gus Hosein warning: "What's remarkable is that in the last year or two, the US has been so activist in the idea... that it doesn't have the data that it needs.

“From October onwards, people applying to visit the US will have to hand over their social media accounts and passwords.”

One country to buck this trend was the UK where government data requests actually declined by 7% to their lowest volume since 2014.

Technology Data and Privacy Transparency Report

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