Google has posted its policies about Government requests for user data on January 28, Data Privacy Day. It is part of their broader strategy to push for tougher privacy laws. Tech companies usually shy away from speaking about their response to the authorities’ such requests, but Google has come straight in this regard.
Documenting their approach to Government requests for user and search data, Google says that they scrutinize each request to ensure it satisfies the law. Google will comply if a written request has been issued, signed by an authorized official of the requesting Government agency under an appropriate law. If an agency is seeking access to private content such as Gmail messages, documents and videos, they require them to produce a search warrant. If the request is overly broad, they may seek to narrow the request or even refuse to provide the information.
Google takes care of notifying users about legal demands when appropriate. However, sometimes they may be legally prohibited to do that or lack verified contact information.
The company has also released data about such requests that they receive from Governments across the world. They have provided details of legal processes that Governments use to compel them to force information.
Google calls for striking balance between the Governments’ need to pursue legitimate investigations and the users’ right of privacy.