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Gov't Increasingly Getting Your Private Info From Internet Companies

Google charges $25, Yahoo $20 and Microsoft and Facebook hand it over for free.

You may know your private information is being collected by sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google and more -- often you're giving it license to collect it. But what you may not know is that this information, which has really only become as available and easy to obtain by the government in the last couple decades, is being requested more and more.

And when sites are asked for information from the government or law enforcement, Reuters reports, they essentially have one choice: give it up.

Last week, The Blaze reported Facebook, Twitter and Google are in the midst of figuring out their policies regarding user information and protecting freedom of speech. While Reuters recently interviewed a Web expert detailing the very reason sites like these are developing standards for how and when they'll share information:

"When the possibility exists for information to be obtained that wasn't possible before, it's entirely understandable that law enforcement is interested," Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf told Reuters in an interview.

"Then the issue would be, what's the right policy? And that, or course, engenders a lot of debate," said Cerf, who is recognized as one of the "fathers of the Internet" for his early work in areas including communications protocols and email.

Interestingly, the administrative cost for finding and providing this information when requested, Reuters continues, is getting less and less. Google charges $25, Yahoo $20 and Microsoft and Facebook hand it over for free.

Reuters also reports that some governments are even requiring Internet companies to "collect more data and keep it for longer." Katarzyna Szymielewicz, executive director of Poland's Panoptykon Foundation, said that the country has a "very controversial data retention regime" requiring data storage for two years.

Online privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian said that Internet companies and telecoms in the United States probably receive 300,000 requests from law enforcement each year.

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