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Google, Government And The Users Privacy

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Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) plans to lobby Washington DC, later on this year, to fight the government’s plan of accessing users’ emails and digital messages.

David Drummond, chief legal officer for Google, shared a blog post on Monday which stated that they, among other tech companies, plan on convincing the government to update the 1986 privacy protection law.

Google, Government And The Users Privacy

Drummond shared data which indicated the government’s request for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s user data jumped over seventy percent since 2009. Last year, they received 16,407 requests to access user data for 31,072 accounts, over half of those requests included subpoenas. He added, “We’re a law-abiding company, and we don’t want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it’s just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information.”

The original law, which was dubbed U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, doesn’t require investigators to obtain a search warrant in order to request older emails or other stored messages. Currently, there complex distinctions and many of those were disputed to courts. The cases with subpoenas often have a lower entryway than cases with search warrants, which  usually don’t involve a judge.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Twitter have resisted handing over user data to government. That’s why they have placed special constitution-based policies, which make the it mandatory for the government to obtain search warrants before accessing data.

Search warrants are issued by a judge when they suspect a crime and need to access personal information to learn more about the person’s activities.

Activists for privacy believe the current law is outdated and should be reformed in order to extend privacy matters online.

In 2012, Senator Patrick Leahy (D) purposed a new bill that would update the current law. Police officials and FBI agents then voiced their concerns over  the possibility that the law would hinder criminal investigations. Despite concerns, Leahy still puts privacy law change at the top of his priorities for this year.

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Anna Peel

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