US government demands Google data

The number of US government requests for data on Google users has increased by a startling 29% over the past 6 months.

According to Mountain View, various government agencies sent 5,950 criminal investigation requests for data on Google users and services from January – June 30, 2011, compared to 4,601 requests from July 1 – December 31 in 2010.

The Internet search giant confirmed it complied in some way with 93% of such requests, which included court orders and grand jury subpoenas. 

However, as Wired’s Ryan Singel points out, Google was unable to report certain government requests, which were obviously not mentioned in the official tally.

To be sure, the numbers do not include national security wiretaps and data requests (FISA warrants), which are approved by a secret court in D.C. to counter suspected spies and threats to national security.

Similarly, Google’s latest report does not divulge the number of National Security Letters sent to the company – as they are often used by the FBI in the context of drug and terrorism investigations.

It should also be noted that Google did not disclose if it was forced to hand over data on individuals outside the country, a controversial practice supported by 2008 legislation that allows officials to collect “intelligence” from online service providers.