How does Google handle government requests for user information?
If Google receives a request for user information, will Google tell the account holder about it?
The laws governing when a provider, like Google, can notify the account holder vary by jurisdiction. For more information, see our policies for notifying users in how Google handles government requests for user information.
When we notify the account holder about a legal request, we do so by email. In these emails, Google will not ask for any personal information such as a password or social security number. If you get an email purportedly from Google that asks for this type of information, don't provide it. The email is probably a scam, so please report it to us.
Does Google give governments direct access to user information?
No, we require that requests for user information be sent to Google directly and not through any sort of "back door" direct access by the government. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and we have taken the lead in being as transparent as possible about government requests for user information. For more information, see our policies for how Google handles government requests for user information.
How can government agencies send legal requests to Google?
What if I want to give a government agency information from my Google Account?
What kinds of information do you disclose for different products?
Non-Content Transactional Information
||Non-content information (such as non-content email header information)||
What is a government request for user information?
What is an emergency disclosure request?
What is a preservation request and are preservation requests included in the total number of requests?
A government agency may ask Google to set aside a copy of specific information while the agency applies for legal process to compel the disclosure of that information. Preservation requests only apply to information that Google has at the time of the request, not information that may be generated in the future.
We report the number of preservation requests received, but we do not include preservation requests in the total number of user data disclosures because we don’t disclose any user information in response to a preservation request. If a government agency does come back with a legal order to disclose preserved information, we account for those disclosures in the appropriate legal process category.
Is the data you show in your Transparency Report comprehensive?
Why do some of the older reporting periods have less data than newer reporting periods?
We keep looking for new ways to show more information and interesting insights, and early time periods may not include this new information. For example:
Starting with July–December 2010, we began to disclose the percentages of user information requests for which we produce at least some information
Starting with January–June 2011, we began to disclose the number of users or accounts about which information was requested
Is the number of "accounts" a comprehensive count of the total number of users implicated by government requests for user information?
The column for the number of “accounts” attempts to reflect the number of accounts that were subject to a government request for user information. This number is not necessarily an aggregate count of unique users for several reasons. For example, the same Gmail account may be specified in several different requests for user information, perhaps once in a subpoena and then later in a search warrant. We add both instances to the "accounts" total even though it's the same account. Similarly, we might receive a request for an account that doesn't exist at all. In that case, we would still add both the request and the non-existent account to the totals. We may also receive a request that has multiple identifiers (for example, multiple YouTube video URLs) that resolve to the same user account. We've taken efforts to reduce over-inclusiveness, but have decided it is better to err on the side of a greater number.
There are also instances where we do not include accounts in the number, such as when the information we disclose is anonymized or aggregated or when accounts are not specifically identified by a request but are based on other criteria in the request.