Google Decides Cops Will Pay Legal Data Disclosure Fees

Legal Data Disclosure Fees

In what might irk a lot of government officials, Google has decided to implement legal data disclosure fees against law enforcement agencies when they place requests for information or enforce search warrants. Google explained that it made this decision in order to offset the costs of producing information related to subpoenas and search warrants. Google receives thousands of requests from law enforcement agencies across the world, every year. 

The reason for Google’s legal data disclosure fees

  • Google sent out a circular to law enforcement agencies regarding the new fees on the 13th of January
  • These fees are legitimate, and US federal law permits corporations to charge reimbursement fees. These fees are not new.
  • Google isn’t the only company to charge government agencies fees for giving away information
  • Many telecom companies already charge fees legally

Google had complied several times in the past to divulge information but had not charged government agencies certain times. With data disclosure requests exceeding 26,000 and data preservation requests clocking in at 11,000, the company probably looks at this as a source of revenue.

Here are the details of Google’s legal data disclosure fees

  • Every subpoena will cost $45. These reveal details about the information shared in the past. This may include names used while creating a Gmail account, or IP address used while creating that account. The IP address used during sign and sign out may be shared as well. 
  • A government agency can make an order for $150
  • A search warrant can be issued for $245. This can include information from Gmail messages, photos, documents, and YouTube videos. 
  • Each PRTT (Pen register or trap and trace) order costs $60
  • Every wiretap order will elicit a bill of $60. In this situation, Google shares real-time data to law enforcement agencies.

The decision has received mixed responses

Certain requests are going to remain free. These include instances of life-threatening emergencies and child safety investigations. Some critics have noted that the fees may stop certain government agencies from seeking information, leading to security risks. Others have noted that this will put an end to excessive surveillance. It is also not clear if Google is charging these fees only in America at the moment.