Government Requests for Google User Information Increase

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Six Facebook Privacy Blunders

Facebook routinely pushes privacy boundaries and riles privacy advocates.

Google ranks right up there with Facebook on the number of times it has been called on the carpet for privacy issues.


Google Buzz and its automatic follow feature, which mined user's Gmail contact lists to find Buzz followers - without user permission or approval - resulted in class action lawsuits and a substantial settlement. Ultimately, Google put Buzz to rest for good - after Google+ took off, of course.


Even more egregious, however - largely because of its international scope - was the inadvertent Wi-Fi "snooping" by Google Street View cars as they were gathering location data for maps in various locations. Due to a coding error, Street View cameras collected private information from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in those same areas - in violation of data privacy laws in several countries.


That debacle resulted in fines and penalties from various governments, and at least one rather complex agreement with government officials. Under the agreement, Google agreed to appoint specific privacy staff and submit to a series of privacy practice audits, among other things.


In light of all that, I found it rather humorous that Google is calling the U.S. government out on its increasing level of "snoopiness." In a report issued last week, the company reported a 29 percent increase in the number of requests the government made for information regarding Google account holders. According to TechNewsWorld, Google received 5,950 requests in the first half of 2011, as compared to 4,601 requests during the same period a year ago.


Google reportedly complies with 93 percent of the requests.