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User Data
Surveillance Report

The User Data Surveillance Report analyzes user data requests that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft received from 66 countries between 2013 and 2020. The study looks at the numbers of requests for user data made by governmental authorities, compares the amount of fully or partially disclosed requests, and examines their global distribution per population.

Requests for user data

The heatmap shows the total number of user data requests that each country’s government institutions made per 100,000 people through the years 2013 to 2020.

User data surveillance map indicator

The numbers speak for themselves

3,067,228 The total number of requests made by 66 countries to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple from 2013 to 2020.
2 million Total number of requests that all the companies have fully or partially disclosed to authorities since 2013.
1,096,910 More than a third of the total requests the companies received were made by the US authorities.

EU countries dominate the user data surveillance list

Seven out of the top ten countries with the highest number user data requests per 100,000 people are from the European Union. Singapore, the United States, and Australia complete the list of the most surveilled countries.

Most surveilled countries Population (2019) Number of requests
(8-year total)
Requests per 100k population
(8-year total)
Region
1. Malta 502,653 3,846 765.14 Europe
2. Singapore 5,703,569 21,249 372.56 Asia
3. Germany 83,132,799 293,660 353.24 Europe
4. United Kingdom 66,834,405 224,689 336.19 Europe
5. United States 328,239,523 1,096,910 334.18 Americas
6. France 67,059,887 210,971 314.60 Europe
7. Ireland 4,941,444 14,933 302.20 Europe
8. Luxembourg 619,896 1,528 246.49 Europe
9. Portugal 10,269,417 24,590 239.45 Europe
10. Australia 25,364,307 49,473 195.05 Oceania
11. Belgium 11,484,055 17,389 151.42 Europe
12. Denmark 5,818,553 8,457 145.35 Europe
13. Taiwan 23,572,052 30,775 130.56 Asia
14. Israel 9,053,300 11,187 123.57 Middle East
15. Poland 37,970,874 43,709 115.11 Europe
16. Sweden 10,285,453 10,968 106.64 Europe
17. Italy 60,297,396 62,934 104.37 Europe
18. Estonia 1,326,590 1,373 103.50 Europe
19. Turkey 83,429,615 86,039 103.13 Middle East
20. Switzerland 8,574,832 8,534 99.52 Europe
21. New Zealand 4,917,000 4,843 98.50 Oceania
22. Hong Kong 7,507,400 7,228 96.28 Asia
23. Norway 5,347,896 5,127 95.87 Europe
24. Netherlands 17,332,850 16,198 93.45 Europe
25. Spain 47,076,781 41,556 88.27 Europe
26. Lithuania 2,786,844 2,447 87.81 Europe
27. Brazil 211,049,527 168,519 79.85 Americas
28. Hungary 9,769,949 7,394 75.68 Europe
29. Argentina 44,938,712 32,568 72.47 Americas
30. Greece 10,716,322 7,692 71.78 Europe
31. South Korea 51,709,098 35,871 69.37 Asia
32. Finland 5,520,314 3,306 59.89 Europe
33. Chile 18,952,038 11,283 59.53 Americas
34. Thailand 69,625,582 40,455 58.10 Asia
35. Canada 37,589,262 20,518 54.58 Americas
36. Czech Republic 10,669,709 5,123 48.01 Europe
37. Ecuador 17,373,662 7,699 44.31 Americas
38. Slovakia 5,454,070 2,375 43.55 Europe
39. Austria 8,877,067 3,747 42.21 Europe
40. Slovenia 2,087,946 760 36.40 Europe
41. Macedonia 2,083,459 534 25.63 Europe
42. India 1,366,417,754 342,622 25.07 Asia
43. Croatia 4,067,500 881 21.66 Europe
44. Mexico 127,575,529 25,996 20.38 Americas
45. Cyprus 1,198,575 227 18.94 Europe
46. Serbia 6,944,975 1,270 18.29 Europe
47. Costa Rica 5,047,561 804 15.93 Americas
48. Romania 19,356,544 2,771 14.32 Europe
49. Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,301,000 400 12.12 Europe
50. Colombia 50,339,443 6,031 11.98 Americas
51. Japan 126,264,931 10,582 8.38 Asia
52. Bulgaria 6,975,761 469 6.72 Europe
53. Pakistan 216,565,318 14,244 6.58 Asia
54. Albania 2,854,191 180 6.31 Europe
55. Russia 144,373,535 6,525 4.52 Asia
56. Peru 32,510,453 1,329 4.09 Americas
57. Armenia 2,957,731 114 3.85 Asia
58. South Africa 58,558,270 1,828 3.12 Africa
59. Moldova 2,657,640 34 1.28 Europe
60. United Arab Emirates 9,770,529 122 1.25 Middle East
61. Ukraine 44,385,150 362 0.82 Europe
62. Bangladesh 163,046,161 1,137 0.70 Asia
63. Dominican Republic 10,738,960 67 0.62 Americas
64. Kenya 52,573,970 149 0.28 Africa
65. Philippines 108,116,615 265 0.25 Asia
66. China mainland 1,397,715,000 362 0.03 Asia

The US authorities are exceptionally interested in what people do online

Between 2013 and 2020, the analyzed companies received almost 40% more user data requests from the US authorities than from all the EU countries combined. The study shows that the US authorities issue nearly double the number of requests for user data per 100,000 people than all the EU countries combined.

EU number of
requests per 100k.
177
User data requests EU and US
US number of
requests per 100k.
334

User surveillance is on the rise

The global number of user data requests made per 100,000 people per year by authorities increased three times over the period from 2013 to 2019.

Total number of user data requests the companies received from 2013 to 2019
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Facebook
  • Apple

Companies disclose more than every other request for user data

Across all four companies examined in the study, the average percentage of fully or partially disclosed requests for data ranges from 55% to 76% (years 2013-2020)

Percentage of fully or partially disclosed user data requests (accumulated yearly average)
  • Facebook (76.02%)
  • Microsoft (66.29%)
  • Google (57.91%)
  • Apple (54.96%)
Percentage of fully or partially disclosed user data requests

Company-level case studies

Google

Google has been a leader in the overall number of disclosed requests for user data since 2013. The company has seen a steady growth of user data requests over the years which became notably steep in 2018 when the requests nearly doubled. However, the company's request disclosure average (58%) has been one of the lowest out of all four companies, just behind Apple. In 2019, Google's disclosed user data request totals were surpassed by Facebook.

Percentage of partially or fully disclosed requests for user data, Google 2013-2020
Disclosed requests for user data, Google 2013-2020

Facebook

Number of requests for user data that Facebook receives has grown nearly six fold since 2013. Also, the company leads in partially or fully disclosing the largest percentage of these requests out of all four companies. The United States is by far the most active country in requesting Facebook’s data in terms of sheer numbers and requests per 100,000 people.

Percentage of partially or fully disclosed requests for user data, Facebook 2013-2019
Disclosed requests for user data, Facebook 2013-2019

Apple

Apple receives the lowest number of user data requests out of all four companies by a large margin. Its total number of requests over the entire period from 2013 to 2019 doesn’t even come close to what Microsoft, Facebook, or Google receive in a single year. In terms of the average request disclosure, Apple sits at the lowest end of all four companies at 55%. The US is the most active in requesting user data from the company, constituting the majority of all requests received by Apple.

Percentage of partially or fully disclosed requests for user data, Apple 2013-2019
Disclosed requests for user data, Apple 2013-2019

Microsoft

While the other three companies have experienced steady growth in the number of disclosed requests for user information throughout the period, Microsoft has been the only one on the decline since 2015. In contrast to its competitors, Microsoft is also second to Facebook in average request disclosure (66%). From 2013 to 2019, the US was the country with the highest amount of user data requests in terms of raw figures, while Luxembourg saw the largest number of requests per 100,000 people.

Percentage of partially or fully disclosed requests for user data, Microsoft 2013-2019
Disclosed requests for user data, Microsoft 2013-2019

Government surveillance grows

The User Data Surveillance Report shows a clear growing tendency of governmental institutions worldwide requesting people’s data from third-party companies. From 2013 to 2020, 3 million requests were made by 66 countries to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, out of which nearly 2 million were disclosed. The amount of disclosed requests has grown by 213% from 2013 to 2019.

The amount of fully or partially disclosed requests for user data from authorities has grown by 213% since 2013

Methodology

The User Data Surveillance study uses information from transparency reports published by four major tech companies Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple. Amazon was specifically excluded from the study due to the lack and/or inconsistent reporting of user data disclosure practices. The study identifies 66 different countries that have requested user data from the organizations between 2013 and 2020.

The collected data was aggregated and analyzed according to four major categories: User data requests received, Full or partial disclosure of requests, Percentages of disclosed requests, and Requests made per 100,000 people in each country.

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