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U.S. appetite for Internet user data not unique

Jaikumar Vijayan | Sept. 2, 2013
Analysis of transparency reports from Google, Microsoft, Skype show other countries equally — or more — demanding.

In 2012, the only year for which data is available from Microsoft, the government in Taiwan made 248.13 requests for data per 1 million Internet users, Turkey had 342.39 requests, the United Kingdom had 167.69 requests, while France made 157.77 requests for data per 1 million Internet users. In contrast, the U.S. had 43.33 requests per 1 million Internet users. A similar pattern is apparent in data from Skype.

U.S. law enforcement agencies however were well ahead of their counterparts in other countries in their requests for data from Twitter. The average number of annual requests for Twitter data per 1 million Internet users was 6.28 compared to the next highest number of 1.85 requests per million in Qatar.

The U.S. did not stand out from the pack even when Internet-user data requests were combined for Google, Microsoft, Skype, Twitter and LinkedIn, Wolf noted. In fact, the United States ranked No. 7, behind countries like United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and Taiwan, in the number of law enforcement request for Internet user data, he said.

"Every country requires both law enforcement and national security access to Internet data," Wolf said. The uproar caused in the U.S. by Snowden's leaks reflects the level of concern that exists in the country over privacy violations he said. He noted that since Snowden's revelations, steps are being taken to add more controls and increase transparency over government data collection activities. "We haven't seen similar procedural protections in Europe or elsewhere," he said.

The privacy blog was the first to report news of the Hogan Lovells whitepaper.


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