**_Denne artikkelen er også tilgjengelig på norsk.
Google regularly receives requests from governments, courts and police around the world to hand over data about individuals using Google-services. The statistics are published every six months on the company’s webpage.
The last data availabe is from june-december 2012 and shows a distinct increase in government requests.
By far the largest number of requests are from the United States. They alone had over 8000 request and Google provided at least some information in almost 90 percent of these cases. Worldwide Google received 21 398 requests and provided the requested data in 66 percent of cases.
All in all this constitutes more than 14000 documents, which is the highest number of documents ever accessed by authorities from Google's archives of information.
The corresponding number of requests three years ago was 12 539 requests.
How this information is accessed, and used, has been heavily debated after Edward Snowden, a former CIA-employee leaked information about the PRISM internet surveillance program.
According to Snowden, the program gives the National Security Agency (NSA) direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants.
This is strongly denied by Google.
— Google has never given U.S. security authorities, or anyone else for that matter, direct access to our servers. Not through backdoors or dropboxes or in any other way.
— What does it take for U.S.Security to access Google data?
— Google shares information with the authorities when the law requires us to do so. We do this through a legal process. Often we ask the government to limit the scope of requested information if we believe the request is too broad. We also refuse to share information if we consider the request to be outside the legal framework, says Christine Soerensen, spokesperson for Google Nordic.
- Disturbing and dramatic
— This is just the beginning. We will see more and more of the authorities and police seeking information about individuals use of the internet, says Bjoern Erik Thon, head of the Norwegian Data protection Authority.
He sees the NSA case as both disturbing and dramatic
— It is very disturbing if the police, or the authorities, use backdoors to obtain general information about citizens. Of course it should be possible to get information about specific cases through a thorough, legal process. The problem, however, arises if there is a general control of information, says Thon.
Google also receives regularly requests from copyright holders and authorities to remove information from their services.
During the last six months of 2012, Google received 2285 such requests.
Norway submitted two requests, both were met and the content was removed.