Google Transparency Report Shows Increase In Government Surveillance

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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UK government requests for content removal double in latest Google Transparency Report

The number of requests made by the UK government to remove content from Google almost doubled during the first six months of 2012, according to the latest version of the Google Transparency Report.

The UK also made 1,425 demands for data from 1,732 accounts during the period, although Google only complied with 64 percent of the demands.

In total, governments around the world made 20,938 requests for access to Google data, with the US making the most demands with 7,969 instances.

Google Transparency Report published

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise,” said Google in a blog post. “Government demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report.”

Google said that although requests for content removal between 2009 and 2011 had been largely flat, there had been a significant rise in the last six months, with governments submitting 1,791 requests to remove 17,746 pieces of content. Turkey was the most active with 501 requests, with the most popular reasons for inquiries related to pornography, speech and copyright.

The number of requests made by the UK government rose by 98 percent, with Google reporting that it turned down one to remove links to sites that criticise the police and claim that individuals were involved with obscuring crimes. Another failed attempt involved a video that accused a separate local law enforcement agency of racism.

Google has published the transparency report twice a year since 2009. The first report showed 12,539 demands for data, a figure which has now risen to 20,939.

“The information we disclose is only an isolated sliver showing how governments interact with the Internet, since for the most part we don’t know what requests are made of other technology or telecommunications companies,” said Google. “Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the Internet free and open.”

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