Google reveals level of government snooping

By Gareth Morgan
26 Oct 2011 View Comments
Gmail by Google

Search giant Google has confirmed that the UK government requested it hand over the account data for 1,200 of its user accounts in the first six months of 2011.

Meanwhile the volume of requests from the government to remove content from its services has skyrocketed – up 72 per cent in the first half of 2011.

Further reading

Google's figures – released as part of its so-called Transparency Report – show that between January and June 2011, government agencies requested the disclosure of user data for more than 1,200 accounts, with Google complying in 64 per cent of cases.

During that time it also received 65 requests to remove over 330 items. It complied with 83 per cent of these requests either fully or partially.

In the past, these content removal requests have come from agencies such as the Office of Fair Trading.

But privacy campaigners have argued that many of these requests are not justified. The issue rose to prominence after micro-blogging service Twitter alerted a handful of its users that the US government had sought to obtain data relating to their accounts.

The US leads the way in the number of requests made to Google for user data, with nearly 6,000 requests in the first six months of 2011 and Google complying with over 90 per cent of them.

By way of contrast, the Russian government made just 42 requests, none of which was complied with.

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