Google has been receiving requests for its users’ information for many years. However, following a surge in demand, the tech giant now charges government authorities for this data.
Emails, location tracking information and search queries can all be shared by Google for a fee. The New York Times reports that these fees start from $45 for a subpoena and $60 for a wiretap. The costs are higher for other aspects such as a search warrant, which costs $245.
According to Al Gidari, a lawyer who represented Google for several years, the costs of doing wiretaps and responding to search warrants are high. Therefore, by passing the fees on to the government, it deters excessive surveillance.
Google has access to information on billions of its users. Therefore, agencies will naturally be tempted to constantly make requests.
During the first half of last year, there were 75,000 requests for data on nearly 165,000 accounts across the globe. A third of these requests came from the United States, Google’s home nation.
Google states that the most common requests are subpoenas, followed by search warrants. Despite all the requests, the firm notifies users whose data has been requested where possible. It informs the user via email before any information is disclosed unless it is prohibited by law.
Additionally, Google only shares information after after adhering to its policies. The Californian outfit follows a strict process when requests are made.
“Just because we receive a request doesn’t necessarily mean that we did—or will—disclose any of the requested information,” Google states on its website.
“We have a rigorous process for reviewing these requests against legal requirements and Google’s policies.”
Even more control
Google already has overwhelming power in relation to the amount of data it holds. It can monetize this data in several ways. The company’s marketing, analytics, sales, and customer service departments can all benefit due to this.
The company recently announced that it is acquiring Fitbit. This move gives the company even more data to play with, especially since information on health can be highly lucrative across several industries.
Google is also managing to find new ways to hold a presence in business settings with its Google Assistant software. Tools such as interpreter mode are being promoted to help translate conversations in places such bank counters and airport check-in desks.
Now, it has another data-related revenue stream. The thousands of requests a year will give the $1 trillion business another sizeable cash injection.
What are your thoughts on Google charging government agencies for access to its users’ information? Do you think it’s a fair move? Let us know what you think in the comment section.