Every single day, dozens of requests from law-enforcement officials, courts, and other government agencies pour into Google's offices, requesting that Google hand over different pieces of information its users have amassed -- whom they've been communicating with, where they've been communicating from, what they've said.
Google recognizes that many of these requests are legitimate, but it certainly doesn't want to be in the business of rubber-stamping them either. In a post on its official company blog, David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, spelled out the competing concerns the company is attempting balance: "It's important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe. We're a law-abiding company, and we don't want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it's just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information."
That puts Google in the position of deciding which of those requests to honor, which to refuse outright, and which to return to sender for further information or refinement. What does that process look like? What standard does Google seek to meet?