Government requests for Google data surge to 21,000

Global government and court requests for Google’s user data have surged to 20,938 in the first six months of 2012, which compares to 13,424 requests made in the same period in 2010.

The UK ranks sixth in the list of countries that have made requests, having asked Google for user data 1,425 times between January and June this year. The UK made 1,017 requests in the same period two years ago.

The United States came out on top of the table in Google’s latest transparency report, which is published every six months, with 7,969 requests. India came in second place (2,319), followed by Brazil (1,566), France (1,546) and Germany (1,533).

Google said: “Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the work to hand over user data.

“[We] disclose the number of requests that we receive from each government in six month periods with certain limitations.”

Google also publishes the amount of requests it receives from governments and courts that would like the internet giant to remove certain content from its services.

This may be due to allegations of defamation, or claims that content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography.

Google said: “Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction.

“We hope that this tool will be helpful in discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.”

In the first six months of 2012 Google received 18 requests from the UK to remove content, where it said it complied with 56 percent of these. This compares to 209 requests made by the US over the same period.

Google also highlighted two instances where it did not comply with the UK’s removal requests. One was from a local police force that wanted to remove 14 search results that linked to sites that criticise the police and claim individuals were involved in obscuring crimes, the other was for the removal of a YouTube video that criticised a police agency of racism.

Google also noted that compared to the previous six months, the UK’s requests to remove content increased by 98 percent.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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