Google report: Government increases requests for access to users' private data

By Sooraj Shah
18 Jun 2012 View Comments
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Google has released its latest transparency report in which it details the extent to which public bodies have requested the removal of content and the amount of requests it has received for access to its users' private information.

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In the six months from July 2011, Google received 1,455 requests from the government for access to the search engine's users' private data. The tech giant complied, at least partially, with 64 per cent of the data requests.

The number of requests had increased from the 1,162 received in the corresponding months of 2010, of which 72 per cent of the information requests were complied with.

In comparison to the UK, Google complied with a larger proportion of requests in the last six months of 2011 from other countries such as the United States (93 per cent), Brazil (90 per cent) and Singapore (83 per cent).

However, Google complied with fewer of the overall requests from France (44 per cent) who had 1,404 user requests and Germany (45 per cent) who had 1,426 user requests, in addition to the majority of other countries.

As part of the report, Google also disclosed removal requests from government agencies and courts. In the last six months of 2011, it received a solitary request from the UK, in which the Association of Police Officers requested it remove five user accounts that allegedly promoted terrorism.

Commenting on the request, Google said: "We terminated these accounts because they violated YouTube's Community Guidelines and, as a result, approximately 640 videos were removed."

Although, the UK has made only one removal request, Google is alarmed at the level of requests over the last six months of 2011 – from governments in general – to remove political content.

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