With today being Data Privacy Day, Google took to several of its blogs to outline three initiatives it says it is focused on, related to privacy as it pertains to protection of consumers' information and government requests. The company will continue to advocate for the updating of privacy laws, it will continue its curent process for handling government rquests, and it will continue to provide consumers with the info about government requests as it has been doing, but expanding upon what is actually available.
"First, for several years we have advocated for updating laws like the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, so the same protections that apply to your personal documents that you keep in your home also apply to your email and online documents. We’ll continue this effort strongly in 2013 through our membership in the Digital Due Process coalition and other initiatives," says Google SVP and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond. "Second, we’ll continue our long-standing strict process for handling these kinds of requests. When government agencies ask for our users’ personal information—like what you provide when you sign up for a Google Account, or the contents of an email—our team does several things."
These include: scrutinizing requests to make sure they satisfy the law and Google's policies, evaluating the scope of the request, notifying users about legal demands "when appropriate," and requiring government agencies conducting criminal investigations to use a search warrant before Google will provide a user's search query info and private content from Google accounts.
Drummond elaborates on each of these things here.
As part of the third initiative, Google has added a new section to its transparency report which answers a variety of questions users might have about the legal process.
Last week, Google released the latest update to its Transparency Report, as it does every six months. More on what was included in that here. Hint: government requests for user data have been increasing in the U.S. and around the world.