The number of user data requests to Internet giants from foreign governments, are being lost in a legal loophole.
For some time I’ve been asking corporate executives how they do, or don’t, account for legal requests served by Canadian authorities on American social networking companies. And the obscurity has been noted in work I’ve previously published on this topic. In an admittedly selfish way, it’s terrific to see a Canadian reporter look into this issue further only to learn that the transparency numbers provided by Google et. al. do not fully account for non-US authorities’ requests for data.
Hopefully we’ll see other journalists, in countries the US has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with, file similar requests to better break down how many requests their domestic law enforcement agencies are issuing to the American companies responsible for storing and transiting so much of our personal data. While Google and other companies should be congratulated for their work it’s apparent that corporate transparency isn’t enough: we need better government accountability and corporate transparency to properly understand how, why, and how often authorities request (and receive) access to privately held telecommunications data.