Government net snooping rises again

By Danny Palmer
24 Jan 2013 View Comments
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Governments around the world are requesting more information about internet users than ever before. That's according to statistics released by Google in its latest bi-annual transparency report.

In the second half of 2012, the operator of the world's most used search engine revealed it received 21,389 requests from government offices for data about 33,000 individuals' activities across Google operated websites including YouTube.

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The figure represents a 70 per cent increase in requests since the first transparency report was released in 2010. Google revealed it had passed on at least some of the requested data in two-thirds of the most recent cases, the lowest percentage of compliance since the reports began.

The US government made the most requests at 8,843 – almost 40 per cent of the total. Google said 88 per cent of those requests have been at least partially fulfilled.

The UK government made 1,458 user data requests concerning 1,918 accounts between June and December last year, a slight increase on the previous six-month period. Of the most recent requests, Google has completely or partially complied with 70 per cent of them, representing a rise of six per cent on the previous six months.

A blog post by Google's director of law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado, urged other organisations to follow in the firm's footsteps.

"We'll keep looking for more ways to inform you about government requests and how we handle them. We hope more companies and governments themselves join us in this effort by releasing similar kinds of data," he said.

He added that Google releases the bi-annual data because it believes "it's important for people to understand how government actions affect them".

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