Over the past year, revelations about government surveillance have shown that we need more transparency into when and how government agencies get access to people’s information online. That’s why we regularly publish a Transparency Report detailing how many government data requests we receive. For the past two years, we published our report annually, but starting today we’ll release it every six months so people have up-to-date information and can watch more closely for trends.
In the current period, January to June 2014, we received 268 requests for user information from law enforcement agencies and 0-249 national security requests. While that number is small compared to our 300 million users, we treat all the requests we receive seriously and scrutinize them to make sure they satisfy legal requirements before complying. We also push back in cases where agencies are seeking too much information or haven’t followed the proper procedures.
Our Transparency Report also shows that law enforcement agencies frequently ask us to keep requests secret even when they don’t have the legal right to do so. These types of clauses were attached to 80% of subpoenas we received in this reporting period. Our policy is to notify users about requests for their information, so we push back in cases where an agency requests a gag order without the legal right.
We’ll push for greater openness, better laws, and more protections for your information. A bill currently in Congress would do just that by reining in bulk data collection by the US government and allowing online services to be more transparent about the government data requests they receive. Another would make it clear that government agencies must get a warrant supported by probable cause before they may demand the contents of user communications. We’ll continue to lend our support for these bills and for real surveillance reform around the world.
In addition to being transparent about the requests we receive, we’ll safeguard your stuff by following our Government Data Request Principles, advocating for legal reform, and continuing to fight in court to protect users.