As of Jan. 13th, Google has been charging law enforcement agencies for legal data disclosure requests, Gizmodo reports. This means, any time law enforcement needs data held by Google to solve a crime, they are now required to pay a fee.
Some of the main requests the tech giant will be charging for include:
Subpoenas – $45
These documents provide information created in the past, Gizmodo says. For example, subpoenas might require Google to reveal the name of a user when he or she created a Gmail account, as will as dates and times of certain information.
Warrants – $245
Similar to subpoenas, warrants entail past information that Google might possess, including a user’s search history or private information storied in a Google account.
Wiretap order and PRTT (pen register or trap and trace) order – $60 for each
Both of these methods involve obtaining information created in real-time, Gizmodo says. In the case of wiretaps, Google is required to hand over communications taking place in real time; with PRTT orders, Google only needs to give law enforcement dialing, routing, addressing, and signaling information, but not the actual content.
Gizmodo says these fees are legal, “as federal law allows companies to charge reimbursement fees for these requests.” Google has actually issued similar charges for years; cell phone carriers and other tech companies have, too.
The tech giant is charging law enforcement in order to “offset the costs” of helping police track down needed information. However, Google will not charge for emergency situations, such as those involving children or a life-threatening event.
Like many other changes in the tech industry, Gizmodo says that industry experts aren’t sure how folks are going to take the new fees. Citing the New York Times about Google’s reimbursement request, industry experts have said “that the new fees would prevent excessive surveillance, while others stated that they would hamper smaller law enforcement agencies.”