Google Reveals How Many Secret User Data Requests It Gets from the FBI

Law enforcement agencies frequently target Google with user data requests

It's no secret that governments around the world and the US in particular are requesting more and more data from web companies. Google is a large target for law enforcement agencies and the company discloses the number of requests it receives each year.

But one large portion of those requests are secret, Google can't say anything about them, including that it received them.

Thankfully, the company has worked with the FBI to start disclosing how many National Security Letters it's getting.

"The FBI has the authority to prohibit companies from talking about these requests. But we’ve been trying to find a way to provide more information about the NSLs we get — particularly as people have voiced concerns about the increase in their use since 9/11," Google explains.

Google has started including data on NSLs in its Transparency Report. Since these requests are secret, Google can only provide a vague estimate of how many of them it gets.

For example, each year since 2009 it got between zero and 999 of these letters affecting 1,000 to 2,999 accounts. It's not much, but any step pushing for more transparency is a good one.

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