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Data Privacy Day farce

Four years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring Jan. 28 "Data Privacy Day." The resolution encouraged "state and local governments to observe the day with appropriate activities that promote awareness of data privacy."

"Many individuals," declared the resolution, "are unaware of data protection and privacy laws generally and of specific steps that can be taken to help protect the privacy of personal information online."

A noble sentiment. But thanks for awareness-raising on this particular Data Privacy Day should probably be directed to the private sector, not the government. Namely, Google's Transparency Report, which details exactly how many requests for user information are generated every six months by law enforcement agencies around the world. Between June and December 2012, the United States made 8,438 requests for information about 14,791 Google users. Overall, the amount of data requested by the government has been rising quickly -- by more than 70 percent, reports Google, since 2009, when the House of Representatives went to such pains to tell us how "the Internet and the capabilities of modern technology cause data privacy issues to figure prominently in the lives of many people in the United States at work, in their interaction with government and public authorities, in the health field, in e-commerce transactions, and online generally."

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