Google's Policy on Law Enforcement Cooperation
Google is well-known for its concise record keeping. Past searches stored within the Google database can be sorted by search term or IP address, and stored email tracking information from Google Gmail can accurately identify the IP address that messages originate from. Given Google's ability to locate the point of origin of searches and email messages, some people are concerned with the possibility of results from Google search and email tracking reporting to law enforcement. Policy at Google dictates what information can be shared with law enforcement agencies and the conditions under which this sharing is done; personal information isn't handed over to law enforcement unless it is in line with Google's policy.
Image Credit: Photo by Mary R. Vogt. Used with permission.
How Google Cooperates with Law Enforcement
What Information Is Shared
Compliance and Resistance
Google has complied with law enforcement requests for Google search and email tracking data on a number of occasions. Data from Google has been used to make arrests in crimes against children and in other cases where state or federal laws have been broken using Google's services. This does not mean that Google always hands over requested data without a fight, of course; Google has denied law enforcement access to its records in cases where the request is for a blanket listing of data or where turning over the data might constitute a violation of the rights of those included in the records.