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How safe is your online privacy?

It is hard to remember life before the internet. It has never been as easy to communicate with our friends and family, we now have 24-hour-a-day access to the latest news and sports scores and you can get an answer to any question in the matter of minutes.

Life is much easier with the internet, but it has come at a cost. In order to take advantage of all the benefits of the internet, we have to accept that we are giving up a lot of  privacy in our day-to-day lives.

Two of the most frequently used internet sites are Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB), both of which gather up huge amounts of information on our personal lives, all of which is easily accessible by governments around the world.

Millions of people use Google search each day, or log into their Gmail account to communicate with friends and business associates. Google has a wealth of knowledge about our personal interests from which videos we watch on YouTube to whom we communicate with.

Governments around the world realize how important this information can be for investigating people, and that is why we are seeing an increasing number of inquiries being made of Google. During the second half of 2012, Google received 21,389 requests about 33,634 of its users, 8,438 of which were made by the United States.

Google has been fighting to keep its users information private, but the law is the law, and there is only so much it can do when governments come knocking for information. Google has been fighting against the use of subpoenas and is trying to force any request be accompanied by a search warrant, which requires a judge's approval, even though the current law does not make it necessary to have a search warrant to request private information.

Michael Fowlkes

Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.