The government more often requests data from Big Tech companies

Big Tech companies are under scrutiny for collecting and selling user data. There is uncertainty about exactly where this data goes and how much of it is given to companies and governments.

Big Tech companies under scrutiny

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Meta are often cited as major collectors of personal data. The results of a recent study by Surfshark show that government requests for personal user data around the world will increase sharply between 2013 and 2021. The year 2020 had the strongest year-on-year increase, at 38%, followed by a 25% increase in 2021.

The 4 Big Tech companies Meta, Microsoft, Apple and Google were included in the study. Meta had the highest number of authority accounts, with 2 of the 5 accounts queried during the study period (6.6 million).

Apple, on the other hand, received the fewest requests from governments, with only 416,000 accounts requested worldwide.

Requests for user data from Big Tech companies are on the rise

The survey results showed that authorities from the United States and Europe were responsible for 60% of requests for personal data from users. The United States served more than twice as many account information requests per 100,000 users than all European countries combined.

After the United States, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom and France are at the highest positions in the ranking.

The report indicates that data requests are often related to criminal investigations, civil proceedings or administrative cases that require digital data.

Gabriele Kaveckyte, member of the privacy board at Surfshark, emphasized that in addition to requesting user data, authorities are also actively looking for ways to monitor and combat online crime.

On the one hand, introducing new measures could help resolve serious criminal cases, but on the other hand, civil society organizations have expressed concerns about encouraging surveillance technologies.

—Gabriel Kaveckyte

Technology companies increased the disclosure rate of user data in 2021 to almost 71%. Apple is the most transparent on this, with an average disclosure rate of 86% this year and 82% over the study period.

Solutions to break Big Tech

Decentralization and Web3 tools are touted as solutions to break Big Tech’s monopoly on user information. Some argue that Web2 platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will be replaced by blockchain technology.

In February Damus, a decentralized version of Twitter, was launched in app stores to create a social network completely under your control.

Even Big Tech companies have taken the step of establishing themselves in the Web3 environment, with Meta unsuccessfully taking the initiative to introduce NFT tokens on Instagram and Facebook.

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