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Google will charge law enforcement for data requests

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Google Logo dark (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google will now be charging law enforcement agencies for data requests.
  • Prices range from as low as $45 all the way to $245.
  • Google reserves the right to charge more if the case demands it.

Google will now charge law enforcement for surveillance data requests it fulfills, as per a new report from the New York Times.

The firm, routinely subject to requests for data and wiretaps, will no longer be working for free. Google will now charge fees ranging from $45 for a subpoena all the way up to $245 for a search warrant. An extra fee could also be tacked on if the situation demands it.

Google charge sheet for law enforcement

Source: The New York Times (Image credit: Source: The New York Times)

Google and other Silicon Valley firms have typically not charged for the fulfillment of law enforcement requests even though legislation has always allowed for that. It's likely that it'll be doing this to help recoup the costs of manpower and resources diverted towards fulfilling law enforcement requests.

A former Google lawyer quoted in the report, Al Gidari, explained:

None of the services were designed with exfiltrating data for law enforcement in mind.The actual costs of doing wiretaps and responding to search warrants is high, and when you pass those costs on to the government, it deters from excessive surveillance.

In cases such as child safety investigation and life-threatening emergencies, Google states that it would not request reimbursement.

Some law enforcement agencies are concerned that Google charging for data could lead to other smaller companies doing the same, leading to small-town police departments having to budget for their data requests and prioritize cases based on importance.

For some departments, that's not a concern. Mark Bruley, a deputy police chief in Minnesota told the Times as much. "We are only using these warrants on major crimes, and their fees seem reasonable," he said. Privacy advocates would be unlikely to begrudge extra judiciousness either way.

Police are using the Google Maps Timeline to collect location information for cases

  • Oh this ought to be interesting.
  • We are on sale...
  • I love it! Make some of the frivolous requests go away. It isn't a prohibitive cost, but if a particular jurisdiction is abusing the number of requests, they may think twice financially about it now.
  • I wonder if we could pay Google extra to have them NOT release our private info to the gov't...
  • If it is a warrant, no you can't.
  • Let's see how long until law enforcement agencies pass that cost onto taxpayers... "You have reached 911 emergency services! Before proceeding, please choose your method of payment..."
  • Are you not aware that law enforcement is 100% paid for by taxes?
  • Tell that to the citizens of Ferguson, Mo who had 1Ks of tickets issued for the sole purpose of funding the local PDs flights of fancy ... like armored personnel carriers. It's not all just "taxes".