The numbers from Google's latest transparency report are in, and they speak for themselves: data requests from law enforcement agencies worldwide during the second half of 2015 reached a record high, surpassing the 40,000 mark for the first time since the tech company started launching them in 2010.
In total, the company received 40,677 data requests — up from 35,365 in the first half of the year, and 30,140 one year before.
So, which country had the most amount of requests? Likely to no one's surprise, according to the transparency report, the U.S. government made the most requests during that time period, making 12,523 requests for data from 27,157 Google users. Among those cases, Google complied with the requests — though not necessarily in their entirety — 79 percent of the time. That number is up from 12,022 requests in the first half of 2015.
In second place came Germany, with 7,491 requests in the second half of the year (up from 3,903 in the first half of 2015), then France with 4,174 requests (up from 3,489), the UK with 3,497 (up from 3,146) and lastly, India with 3,265 (up from 3,087).
The United States, Germany and France making the top three on the list, especially Germany, which saw the number of requests nearly double within the span of a few months, is hardly surprising. All three countries were the target of an assortment of terrorist attacks in the latter half of 2015, and based on how the year is going so far, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the number of requests to increase yet again for the first half of 2016.
So, why does Google even bother to publish these reports in the first place? Well, simply put, it's because they're important. Google's transparency reports allow the common user to have an idea about how international governments and states are trying to use and access our data. Perhaps even more importantly, they let users see how much information Google actually gives up.
Interestingly, an unexpected side effect of Google's efforts has been that they have triggered similar reports from other tech companies, such as Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, the number of companies engaging in this practice have only increased in number since 2013, when ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a cache of top-secret documents that detailed how various world governments were "spying" on their citizens and sharing that information with the NSA.
"Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world," the company said in a blog post.