We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to:
meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request.
enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations.
detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, our users or the public as required or permitted by law.
It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for Apple to disclose your personal information. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.
This category is inspired by the 2010 decision in United States v. Warshak, a case in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Fourth Amendment protects emails stored with email service providers, and the government must have a search warrant before it can seize those messages. This decision is a critical victory for Internet privacy, but is the holding of one appeals court — and so is not binding legal precedent throughout the entire country.
We award stars to companies that commit to following the Warshak rule. When companies require a warrant before turning over private messages to law enforcement, they are ensuring that private user communications are treated consistently with the protections of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
What does Google do when it receives a legal request for user data?
Respect for the privacy and security of data you store with Google underpins our approach to complying with these legal requests. When we receive such a request, our team reviews the request to make sure it satisfies legal requirements and Google's policies. Generally speaking, for us to comply, the request must be made in writing, signed by an authorized official of the requesting agency and issued under an appropriate law. If we believe a request is overly broad, we'll seek to narrow it. We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order.
Does a law enforcement agency in the U.S. have to use legal process to compel Google to provide user data or will a phone call be enough?
The government needs legal process—such as a subpoena, court order or search warrant—to force Google to disclose user information. Exceptions can be made in certain emergency cases, though even then the government can't force Google to disclose.
What kinds of emergency cases?
We'll voluntarily disclose user information to government agencies when we believe that doing so is necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to someone. The law allows us to make these exceptions, such as in cases involving kidnapping or bomb threats.
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