Google appears to have an interesting relationship with the U.S. government. And it boils down to one thing: privacy. On the one hand, the company’s Transparency Report tool makes the government’s requests for citizen’s information transparent. On the other hand, Google’s own privacy policies will now be monitored twice a year, for the next 20 years, by the Federal Trade Commission.
Google has agreed to the monitoring brought about in part by its handling of the Buzz feature, which made users’ data public. Google has also been barred from “misrepresenting its privacy policies” and Buzz is going away. The agreement with the FTC will apply to Google+.
But at the same time that the government is requiring transparency from Google and responsible behavior with regard to user privacy, it appears to be guilty, too. Google’s Transparency Report, for example, notes that the U.S. government makes more requests for user information than any other nation. According to Mashable’s Sarah Kessler, between January and June of 2011, the U.S. government made requests for 5,950 users’ data. The number of user accounts affected was 11,057—and Google filled nearly all of the requests.