The FBI made requests for data on as many as 2,000 Google accounts last year, the Internet giant said Tuesday.
The requests were made using a controversial technique known as a ‘national security letter’ that allows the government to seek financial, phone and Internet data without a warrant.
Google is the first Internet company to reveal the federal government’s use of national security letters to secretly retrieve data on people.
Google said it received between zero and 999 letters in 2012 that sought information on between 1,000 and 1,9999 users or accounts. The FBI has been requesting information from the company on its users since at least 2009. The year with the highest number of requests was 2010, when the government asked for data on at least 2,999 customers.
‘You’ll notice that we’re reporting numerical ranges rather than exact numbers,’ Richard Salgado, a legal director for Google, wrote in a blog post. ‘This is to address concerns raised by the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers might reveal information about investigations.’