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Governments fish for Google user data

– Google is being pulled into an increasing number of police and government investigations around the world as authorities seek to learn more about the people who use its Internet search engine, email and other services.

The latest snapshot of law enforcement agencies’ efforts to extract personal information from Google emerged in a Wednesday report from the company.

Governments presented Google with 21,389 requests for information on 33,634 of its users during the last six months of 2012. The number of requests was up 17 percent from a year earlier.

Authorities in the U.S. delivered nearly 8,438 of the requests, representing nearly 40 percent of the worldwide total. The U.S. volume was one-third higher than in the same period in 2011.

Subpoenas accounted for 68 percent of U.S. requests, followed by search warrants at 22 percent. A mix of court orders and other legal demands made up the remaining U.S. requests for user information from Google.

India generated the second highest number of user requests during the final half of last year at 2,431, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Since 2010, Google Inc. has been disclosing the total number of subpoenas, search warrants and other legal requests that it receives.

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