Google has more than 6,000 data transmission vendors around the world, including companies like Datto, which handles data transmission, and E-Trans, which manages data transmissions from carriers.
But the company has also found it difficult to track down who actually does the work.
Google’s audit firm, Batch, says it has never investigated a data transmission vendor’s activities.
“I would not know of any vendor that would investigate their own,” Batch director Tom Schreiber said.
“It would be very difficult.”
Batch’s work, which Google does, is a bit of a mystery.
The company has been unable to get specific information on its data transmission work.
For example, Batching has been unsuccessful in getting Google to answer whether it audits data transmission contracts with third parties, which are not covered by Google’s audits.
Google also hasn’t been able to get data transmission companies to reveal who actually writes the contracts.
Data transmission audit companies typically have no more than three people in the company who write data transmission agreements.
Batch says it does not have a database of data transmission company employees, so it is difficult to determine if the companies’ audits are actually doing the work Google is paying for.
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
The firm says it can track down a company by “focusing on the companies own internal documentation and data” and asking them questions like, “How many people do you have?
Who is the manager?”
In other cases, Batches has been able find out what is happening with companies who do not sign the contracts Google says it approves.
“If a vendor says they have two people in charge of the contract, we can actually determine if that’s actually the case,” Batches executive director John Kocsis said.
Google says its data transmissions are more than 100 percent voluntary, meaning that the companies do not have to be audited to get their contracts.
However, the company says it is willing to investigate those companies for violations of privacy laws.
“We can’t say whether or not it’s actually a privacy violation because of that,” Schreibt said.
He also said the company will not force the companies to change the contracts it approves, but “if they don’t want to change, then we can have them write the contracts themselves.”
Google has been criticized by privacy advocates for not making public what data transmission contract companies actually write, and for not having audited the contracts of data transport companies that do not participate in its audits.
“Google does not make its own records publicly available, and has not released its audit records to the public,” a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report released in 2015 said.
The watchdog agency also found that Google did “not follow the usual practice of reporting to the Privacy and Information Commissioner what it has done with data transfer contracts, and the extent to which it has audited these contracts.”