Federal state and local governmental agencies want to read email — often without a warrant — and Google has given it to them.
In 2012, Google was sent requests for electronic information by different levels of government 13,753 times. According to Google’s own statistics, more than half of those requests came without a warrant.
Due to the many different ways information can be requested — subpoena, court order, search warrant, etc. — often Google is not even permitted to inform citizens an agency has viewed their accounts.
CNS News reports that the total number of users about whom government agencies wanted information reached an all-time high of 31,072, up from 23,300 in 2011. CNS notes that the discrepancy comes because government agencies request information on multiple users or accounts at the same time.
Google informs readers: “We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order … We can’t notify you if, for example, your account has been closed, or if we’re legally prohibited from doing so. We sometimes fight to give users notice of a data request by seeking to lift gag orders or unseal search warrants.”
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