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Google stands ‘exposed’ after reports of company sharing user data with Hong Kong authorities surface

Google “produced some data” in response to three out of 43 requests it received from the Hong Kong authorities for user information during the second half of last year

Causing major embarrassment to the global technology giant Google, reports have surfaced that the company has ‘exposed’ critical used data to the Hong Kong government last year. This comes against the backdrop of the company promising not to process such data requests from authorities.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, alongside other tech and social media giants last year, the company announced that it would stop responding to any request for user information coming from the city’s authorities unless they were made via the US Justice Department.

The latest disclosure indicates a reversal in the company’s position last year. Google “produced some data” in response to three out of 43 requests it received from the Hong Kong authorities for user information during the second half of last year, the firm said in response to HKFP’s enquiry sent in May.

One of the requests it complied with was an emergency disclosure request involving a credible threat to life, the report said. Facebook, meanwhile, has denied an emergency request last year.

The remaining two Google complied with involved human trafficking — it said the two requests were unrelated to national security and were supported by search warrants signed by a magistrate as part of an investigation.

They were processed according to the company’s global policy on government requests for user information, the tech giant said. According to the tech giant, none of the responses included users’ content data.

Google’s general policy on responding to government requests states that it may provide other metadata, such as subscriber information including name, associated email and phone numbers, IP addresses, billing information, timestamps, and email headers.

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