Nov 13, 2012 No Comments ›› Chuck Biscuits
Excerpted from Hillicon Valley: Google received more requests from the U.S. government to hand over user data during the first half of this year than from any other country, according to the search company’s biannual “Transparency Report” released on Tuesday.
From January to June, Google received nearly 8,000 requests for user data from the U.S. government. The search company said it “fully or partially” compiled with roughly 90 percent of them. That’s up from the 5,950 requests for user data that Google received from the U.S. government during the same period a year ago.
More than 16,000 Google accounts were specified in the U.S. government’s user data requests, according to the report.
However, the search company cautioned that the total number of U.S. government requests for user data also tallied requests “issued by U.S. authorities on behalf of other governments pursuant to mutual legal assistance treaties and other diplomatic mechanisms.”
“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” said Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst at Google, in a company blog post.
Overall, Google received 20,938 requests for user data from government officials worldwide in the first half of this year, which targeted roughly 34,614 accounts. That’s up from the 18,257 government requests for user data that Google received during the same period a year ago, around a 15 percent rise.
In addition, Google saw a notable spike in the number of requests it received from government officials to remove content from YouTube and its other services during the first half of 2012. The search company said it received 1,791 requests from government officials to remove 17,746 pieces of content during the first half of this year — a 70 percent rise from the number of content-removal requests it received a same period a year ago.
Turkey topped the list of countries that sent the most content-removal requests, a total of 501 requests from January to June, according to the report. The requests were focused on removing YouTube videos, blogs and other content that was critical of the government.
The U.S. came in second with 273 requests to remove content, an increase of “46% compared to the previous reporting period,” the report said.
“The number of government requests to remove content from our services was largely flat from 2009 to 2011,” Chou said. “But it’s spiked in this reporting period.”
Still, that number dwarfs the requests from other countries: India and Brazil came after the U.S. with 2,319 and 1,566 requests for user data, respectively, during the first half of 2012.