What Transparency Reports Don’t Tell Us: These reports give us a lot of numbers, but very little information about how hard these companies fight on the behalf of users

There was a time in the not so distant past when hardly any Internet company wanted to release a transparency report — a report that summarized the number of law enforcement and intelligence requests that they received and responded to. What started with just Google and Twitter in 2010 and 2012, respectively, has become a steady stream of companies joining the bandwagon in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations. Companies that had no interest in reporting one year ago now hold out their reports in an attempt to earn back eroded customer trust. The problem is that transparency reports actually tell us very little about whether we should trust these companies.According to Google’s latest transparency report, in the first six months of 2013, they received 25,879 requests for user data, and complied with 65 percent of them. Sounds like big numbers. And they are. As Google points out in their report, the number of requests has doubled since 2010. But what does that tell us about Google? Less than you might think.

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