Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Brother Is Data Mining You

It's a growing demand:
U.S. government and law enforcement agencies are increasingly asking Google to hand over data on its customers to help with investigations.

The search and ads company today released figures revealing that it was asked to hand over user data 7,969 times by US agencies in the first six months of 2012 - an increase of 26 percent over the previous six months. That continues a long established trend in the figures released in Google's twice-yearly transparency report and charted above. The 7,969 requests asked for data from a total of 16,281 user accounts, and ninety percent of the requests were complied with.
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Some privacy activists say that the ease with which U.S. authorities can extract information on users from Google and other companies suggests changes in the law, and company policies are needed to protect innocent users against the risk of unnecessary surveillance. Data can only be handed over by a company if it exists, and some campaigners think companies such as Google should reduce how long they retain some information. For example, Google currently stores search query details for 9 months before anonymizing them, a period some argue is too long. The main target of legal campaigning about data access is against the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows government and law enforcement to obtain data from Internet companies without a warrant if it is at least 6 months old.
It does tend to make one wonder what they are looking for...

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