The United States remains far ahead of all governments who request user information from Google, according to the company’s latest Transparency Report (July through December 2012) which was released on Wednesday.
- 68 percent of the requests Google received from government entities in the U.S. were through subpoenas. These are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.
- 22 percent were through ECPA search warrants. These are, generally speaking, orders issued by judges under ECPA, based on a demonstration of “probable cause” to believe that certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.
- The remaining 10 percent were mostly court orders issued under ECPA by judges or other processes that are difficult to categorize.
From 2003 to 2006 the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued 192,499 national security letter requests. (from Wikipedia) The source is an article from the Washington Post
Also they state that when police asks for information, they will require a warrant.
“In order to compel us to produce content in Gmail we require an ECPA search warrant,” said Chris Gaither, Google spokesperson. “If they come for registration information, that’s one thing, but if they ask for content of e-mail, that’s another thing.”
While relatively few tech companies publicly disclose how many government requests they get, Google appears to be one of the few e-mail providers that is challenging law enforcement agencies to produce a warrant to access users’ e-mail.