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Does Google Give Government User Data

Search Engine Takes User Privacy Serious Even Under Government Pressure

In the web world user data is gold. This is why social networking companies such as Facebook want to know what you like, Google Maps wants to know where you go and Instagram wants you to add GPS tracking data to uploaded photos. The more information search engines, social networking sites and other companies know about users the better they can market to those users. Although mobile apps and websites continue to seek user data there has been a dynamic shift in government interest of user data. This has placed a lot of pressure on those companies that collect user-driven data, but the folks at Google are not responding lightly to the governments around the world inquiring about the private data of their users.

More and more frequently governments from all around the world are requesting that Google share private user data with them, and according to a Google Transparency Report it is the United States that is at the forefront of these user data requests. What many people fail to remember is that Google is a private enterprise and therefore does not have to follow the guidelines of the Fourth Amendment in the same way that the government does. Google users openly provide information about themselves in return for free use of Google services. The company then collects this data to better understand and meet the search needs of those users. They use this data to sell ads and generate revenue because let’s face it, Google has to make money somehow. However, the issue of privacy becomes a very serious topic for Google and other search engines when government entities begin to demand that private user data, especially when it is a country known to exploit or infringe on the human rights of its citizens.

Google Will Fight Back

In an unprecedented move addressing the topic of government requests for private user data, the chief legal officer for Google posted on the companies’ official blog how the search engine giant goes about dealing with such situations. What surprised many readers was the internal conflict at Google in dealing with such issues in an effort to protect its users from intrusive governments. In fact, Google has a quite strict process for how they deal with personal user data, explaining that, “laws [should] protect [users] against overly broad requests for personal information.”  

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