Author Archives: Richard Salgado

New government removals and National Security Letter data

Since 2010, we’ve shared regular updates in our Transparency Report about the effects of government and corporate policies on users’ data and content. Our goal has always been to make this information as accessible as possible, and to continue expanding this report with new and relevant data.

Today, we’re announcing three updates to our Transparency Report. We’re expanding the National Security Letters (NSL) section, releasing new data on requests from governments to remove content from services like YouTube and Blogger, and making it easier for people to share select data and charts from the Transparency Report.

National Security Letters

Following the 2015 USA Freedom Act, the FBI started lifting indefinite gag restrictions—prohibitions against publicly sharing details—on particular NSLs. Last year, we began publishing NSLs we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of these nondisclosure obligations. We have added a new subsection to the NSL page of the Transparency Report where we publish these letters. We also added letters to the collection, and look to update this section regularly.

Government requests for content removals

As usage of our services increases, we remain committed to keeping internet users safe, working with law enforcement to remove illegal content, and complying with local laws. During this latest reporting period, we’ve continued to expand our work with local law enforcement. From January to June 2017, we received 19,176 requests from governments around the world to remove 76,714 pieces of content. This was a 20 percent percent increase in removal requests over the second half of 2016.

Making our Transparency Report easier to use

Finally, we’ve implemented a new “deep linking” feature that makes it easier to bookmark and share specific charts in the Transparency Report. Sorting data by country, time period, and other categories now generates a distinct web address at the top of your browser window. This allows you to create a link that will show, for example, just government removals data in France, by Google product, for the first half of 2015. We hope this will make it easier for citizens to find and reference information in the report, and for journalists and researchers to highlight specific details that they may be examining as well.

By continuing to make updates like these, we aim to spark new conversations about transparency, accountability and the role of governments and companies in the flow of information online.

New government removals and National Security Letter data

Since 2010, we’ve shared regular updates in our Transparency Report about the effects of government and corporate policies on users’ data and content. Our goal has always been to make this information as accessible as possible, and to continue expanding this report with new and relevant data.

Today, we’re announcing three updates to our Transparency Report. We’re expanding the National Security Letters (NSL) section, releasing new data on requests from governments to remove content from services like YouTube and Blogger, and making it easier for people to share select data and charts from the Transparency Report.

National Security Letters

Following the 2015 USA Freedom Act, the FBI started lifting indefinite gag restrictions—prohibitions against publicly sharing details—on particular NSLs. Last year, we began publishing NSLs we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of these nondisclosure obligations. We have added a new subsection to the NSL page of the Transparency Report where we publish these letters. We also added letters to the collection, and look to update this section regularly.

Government requests for content removals

As usage of our services increases, we remain committed to keeping internet users safe, working with law enforcement to remove illegal content, and complying with local laws. During this latest reporting period, we’ve continued to expand our work with local law enforcement. From January to June 2017, we received 19,176 requests from governments around the world to remove 76,714 pieces of content. This was a 20 percent percent increase in removal requests over the second half of 2016.

Making our Transparency Report easier to use

Finally, we’ve implemented a new “deep linking” feature that makes it easier to bookmark and share specific charts in the Transparency Report. Sorting data by country, time period, and other categories now generates a distinct web address at the top of your browser window. This allows you to create a link that will show, for example, just government removals data in France, by Google product, for the first half of 2015. We hope this will make it easier for citizens to find and reference information in the report, and for journalists and researchers to highlight specific details that they may be examining as well.

By continuing to make updates like these, we aim to spark new conversations about transparency, accountability and the role of governments and companies in the flow of information online.

Updating our Transparency Report and electronic privacy laws

Today, we are releasing the latest version of our Transparency Report concerning government requests for user data. This includes government requests for user data in criminal cases, as well as national security matters under U.S. law. Google fought for the right to publish this information in court and before Congress, and we continue to believe that this type of transparency can inform the broader debate about the nature and scope of government surveillance laws and programs.


In the first half of 2017, worldwide, we received 48,941 government requests that relate to 83,345 accounts. You can see more detailed figures, including a country-by-country breakdown of requests, here. We’ve also posted updated figures for the number of users/accounts impacted by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests for content in previous reporting periods. While the total number of FISA content requests was reported accurately, we inadvertently under-reported the user/account figures in some reporting periods and over-reported the user/account figures in the second half of 2010. The corrected figures are in the latest report and reflected on our visible changes page.


Updating Electronic Privacy Laws


We are publishing the latest update to our Transparency Report as the U.S. Congress embarks upon an important debate concerning the nature and scope of key FISA provisions. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expires at the end of 2017. This is the section of FISA that authorizes the U.S. government to compel service providers like Google to disclose user data (including communications content) about non-U.S. persons in order to acquire “foreign intelligence information.”


Earlier this year, we expressed support for specific reforms to Section 702. We continue to believe that Congress can enact reforms to Section 702 in a way that enhances privacy protection for internet users while protecting national security. Independent bodies have concluded that Section 702 is valuable and effective in protecting national security and producing useful foreign intelligence. These assessments, however, do not preclude reforms that improve privacy protections for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and that do not disturb the core purposes of Section 702.


Government access laws are due for a fundamental realignment and update in light of the proliferation of technology, the very real security threats to people, and the expectations of privacy that Internet users have in their communications. Our General Counsel, Kent Walker, delivered a speech earlier this year calling for a new framework to address cross-border law enforcement requests. Updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will be necessary to create a legal framework that addresses both law enforcement and civil liberties concerns.


The recent introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) in the Senate and the House is a significant step in the right direction, and we applaud Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller and Representatives Collins, Jeffries, Issa, and DeBene for their leadership on this important bill. ECPA should also be updated to enable countries that commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles to make direct requests to U.S. providers. Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques. These measures ultimately weaken privacy, due process, and human rights standards.


We look forward to continuing in the constructive discussion about these issues.


Updating our Transparency Report and electronic privacy laws

Today, we are releasing the latest version of our Transparency Report concerning government requests for user data. This includes government requests for user data in criminal cases, as well as national security matters under U.S. law. Google fought for the right to publish this information in court and before Congress, and we continue to believe that this type of transparency can inform the broader debate about the nature and scope of government surveillance laws and programs.


In the first half of 2017, worldwide, we received 48,941 government requests that relate to 83,345 accounts. You can see more detailed figures, including a country-by-country breakdown of requests, here. We’ve also posted updated figures for the number of users/accounts impacted by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests for content in previous reporting periods. While the total number of FISA content requests was reported accurately, we inadvertently under-reported the user/account figures in some reporting periods and over-reported the user/account figures in the second half of 2010. The corrected figures are in the latest report and reflected on our visible changes page.


Updating Electronic Privacy Laws


We are publishing the latest update to our Transparency Report as the U.S. Congress embarks upon an important debate concerning the nature and scope of key FISA provisions. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expires at the end of 2017. This is the section of FISA that authorizes the U.S. government to compel service providers like Google to disclose user data (including communications content) about non-U.S. persons in order to acquire “foreign intelligence information.”


Earlier this year, we expressed support for specific reforms to Section 702. We continue to believe that Congress can enact reforms to Section 702 in a way that enhances privacy protection for internet users while protecting national security. Independent bodies have concluded that Section 702 is valuable and effective in protecting national security and producing useful foreign intelligence. These assessments, however, do not preclude reforms that improve privacy protections for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and that do not disturb the core purposes of Section 702.


Government access laws are due for a fundamental realignment and update in light of the proliferation of technology, the very real security threats to people, and the expectations of privacy that Internet users have in their communications. Our General Counsel, Kent Walker, delivered a speech earlier this year calling for a new framework to address cross-border law enforcement requests. Updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will be necessary to create a legal framework that addresses both law enforcement and civil liberties concerns.


The recent introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) in the Senate and the House is a significant step in the right direction, and we applaud Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller and Representatives Collins, Jeffries, Issa, and DeBene for their leadership on this important bill. ECPA should also be updated to enable countries that commit to baseline privacy, due process, and human rights principles to make direct requests to U.S. providers. Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques. These measures ultimately weaken privacy, due process, and human rights standards.


We look forward to continuing in the constructive discussion about these issues.


A Significant Step Toward Modernizing Our Surveillance Laws

Last month, our General Counsel Kent Walker delivered a speech calling for a fundamental realignment of government access statutes in light of the growing role that technology plays in our daily lives, the expectation that communications should remain private, and the very real security threats that governments need to investigate.

In conjunction with the speech, we proposed a new framework oriented toward policy solutions that recognize legitimate law enforcement interests, respect the sovereignty of other countries, and reflect the reasonable expectation of privacy that users have in the content of their electronic communications.

The introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) by Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller advances these objectives, and we commend these Senators for their leadership in this area.

ICPA would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in two important ways.

First, it would require U.S. government entities to obtain a warrant to compel the production of communications content from providers.  For many years, we have called upon the U.S. Congress to update ECPA in this manner, and the House of Representative has twice passed legislation (the Email Privacy Act) that would achieve this goal.

Second, it provides clear mechanisms for the U.S. government to obtain user data from service providers with a warrant, wherever the data may be stored, but with protections built in for certain cases when the users are nationals of other countries and are located outside the U.S.

We are eager to work with Members of Congress enact ICPA into law, and look forward to the opportunity to help advance this important bill.

A significant step toward modernizing our surveillance laws

Last month, our General Counsel Kent Walker delivered a speech calling for a fundamental realignment of government access statutes in light of the growing role that technology plays in our daily lives, the expectation that communications should remain private, and the very real security threats that governments need to investigate.

In conjunction with the speech, we proposed a new framework oriented toward policy solutions that recognize legitimate law enforcement interests, respect the sovereignty of other countries, and reflect the reasonable expectation of privacy that users have in the content of their electronic communications.

The introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) by Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller advances these objectives, and we commend these Senators for their leadership in this area.

ICPA would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in two important ways.

First, it would require U.S. government entities to obtain a warrant to compel the production of communications content from providers.  For many years, we have called upon the U.S. Congress to update ECPA in this manner, and the House of Representative has twice passed legislation (the Email Privacy Act) that would achieve this goal.

Second, it provides clear mechanisms for the U.S. government to obtain user data from service providers with a warrant, wherever the data may be stored, but with protections built in for certain cases when the users are nationals of other countries and are located outside the U.S.

We are eager to work with Members of Congress enact ICPA into law, and look forward to the opportunity to help advance this important bill.

A significant step toward modernizing our surveillance laws

Last month, our General Counsel Kent Walker delivered a speech calling for a fundamental realignment of government access statutes in light of the growing role that technology plays in our daily lives, the expectation that communications should remain private, and the very real security threats that governments need to investigate.

In conjunction with the speech, we proposed a new framework oriented toward policy solutions that recognize legitimate law enforcement interests, respect the sovereignty of other countries, and reflect the reasonable expectation of privacy that users have in the content of their electronic communications.

The introduction of the International Communications Privacy Act (ICPA) by Senators Hatch, Coons, and Heller advances these objectives, and we commend these Senators for their leadership in this area.

ICPA would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) in two important ways.

First, it would require U.S. government entities to obtain a warrant to compel the production of communications content from providers.  For many years, we have called upon the U.S. Congress to update ECPA in this manner, and the House of Representative has twice passed legislation (the Email Privacy Act) that would achieve this goal.

Second, it provides clear mechanisms for the U.S. government to obtain user data from service providers with a warrant, wherever the data may be stored, but with protections built in for certain cases when the users are nationals of other countries and are located outside the U.S.

We are eager to work with Members of Congress enact ICPA into law, and look forward to the opportunity to help advance this important bill.

Resounding support for updating electronic privacy laws

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) by voice vote.  This is the second year in a row that the House of Representatives has resoundingly passed this bill, which is a testament to its widespread support across the political spectrum.

The Email Privacy Act updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a warrant before it can compel companies like Google to disclose the content of users’ communications.  Since 2010, Google has testified before Congress four times in support of this reform, which will protect all users, and we are proud of our efforts.  We are particularly grateful to the House of Representatives leadership and to Representatives Yoder (R-Kan.), Polis (D-Colo.), Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Conyers (D-Mich.) for securing passage of this bill so early in the 115th Congress.

This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes. 

This is consistent with the practice around the country already and what the Constitution requires; the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it permits the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user’s electronic communications content without a warrant.  Today’s vote demonstrates that this conviction is widely shared.

The Senate now has a historic opportunity to shepherd this landmark reform toward enactment.  While there are disagreements about other aspects of surveillance reform, there is no disagreement that emails and electronic content deserve Fourth Amendment protections.  We urge the Senate to advance this common sense measure, which will begin the process of updating ECPA for the Internet age.

Resounding support for updating electronic privacy laws

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) by voice vote.  This is the second year in a row that the House of Representatives has resoundingly passed this bill, which is a testament to its widespread support across the political spectrum.

The Email Privacy Act updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a warrant before it can compel companies like Google to disclose the content of users’ communications.  Since 2010, Google has has testified before Congress four times in support of this reform, which will protect all users, and we are proud of our efforts.  We are particularly grateful to the House of Representatives leadership and to Representatives Yoder (R-Kan.), Polis (D-Colo.), Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Conyers (D-Mich.) for securing passage of this bill so early in the 115th Congress.

This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes. 

This is consistent with the practice around the country already and what the Constitution requires; the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it permits the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user’s electronic communications content without a warrant.  Today’s vote demonstrates that this conviction is widely shared.

The Senate now has a historic opportunity to shepherd this landmark reform toward enactment.  While there are disagreements about other aspects of surveillance reform, there is no disagreement that emails and electronic content deserve Fourth Amendment protections.  We urge the Senate to advance this common sense measure, which will begin the process of updating ECPA for the Internet age.

Resounding support for updating electronic privacy laws

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) by voice vote.  This is the second year in a row that the House of Representatives has resoundingly passed this bill, which is a testament to its widespread support across the political spectrum.

The Email Privacy Act updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a warrant before it can compel companies like Google to disclose the content of users’ communications.  Since 2010, Google has has testified before Congress four times in support of this reform, which will protect all users, and we are proud of our efforts.  We are particularly grateful to the House of Representatives leadership and to Representatives Yoder (R-Kan.), Polis (D-Colo.), Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Conyers (D-Mich.) for securing passage of this bill so early in the 115th Congress.

This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes. 

This is consistent with the practice around the country already and what the Constitution requires; the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it permits the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user’s electronic communications content without a warrant.  Today’s vote demonstrates that this conviction is widely shared.

The Senate now has a historic opportunity to shepherd this landmark reform toward enactment.  While there are disagreements about other aspects of surveillance reform, there is no disagreement that emails and electronic content deserve Fourth Amendment protections.  We urge the Senate to advance this common sense measure, which will begin the process of updating ECPA for the Internet age.