Google is making clear how they will be handling warrants and subpoenas for users’ personal information. With January 28th being Data Privacy Day, Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, shared three initiatives on the Google blog, which detail how Google plans to protect user privacy when faced with a warrant or subpoena to hand over private user information.
Says Drummond, “It’s important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe. We’re a law-abiding company, and we don’t want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it’s just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information.”
Google released stats on the government requests they’ve received from July through December of 2012, and those figures showed:
68% of user information requests from U.S. government bodies were via subpoena
22% of user information requests were through Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) warrants
10% of user information requests were court orders issued under the ECPA, as well as other miscellaneous processes
The three initiatives Google unveiled today are:
1) Strong advocacy for updating laws such as the ECPA so that email and online documents have the same protections as personal documents kept in the users’ home.
2) Strong policies and processes for managing government requests for user information, including requiring that requests are made in writing, issued under an appropriate law, and signed by an authorize official from the requesting agency. The request must specific, broad requests will be asked to be narrowed down. When legally allowed, Google will notify users that their private information is being requested. Where there is a gag order or sealed search warrant, Google will seek to lift the gag order or unseal the search warrant.
3) Providing the general public with the types of information requests that they receive, such as the statistics above.
Said Drummond, “We’re proud of our approach, and we believe it’s the right way to make sure governments can pursue legitimate investigations while we do our best to protect your privacy and security.”
To learn more about Google’s privacy approach, visit their blog here.