2011 Transparency Report reveals government requests

Wed 26th of October 2011, filed under Internet News

At the government's request

Google has published stats revealing the number of government requests the search engine received from January to June 2011.

Google launched its online Transparency Report in 2010. Members of the public can use the Government Requests tool to find out the number of demands a country's government made to Google during a six month time frame.

The most recent set of stats show that the UK government made 65 requests for content to be removed from Google sites, including 53 from YouTube, 2 from Blogger, 1 from Google Maps, 2 from Google Images and 7 from search results. The most common reasons were defamation and privacy, although one instance of hate speech was removed from YouTube.

Meanwhile, the UK government made 1,273 demands for Google user data in the first half of 2011, of which 64 per cent were complied with. This means that although the quantity of demands rose, the number that Google acquiesced to is down.

Government Requests across the world

As in 2010, the highest statistic of all was US government requests for user data, totalling 5,950 with a 93 per cent compliance rate. India came second, while France, the UK and Germany were also in the top five.

Another tool in the Transparency Report shows traffic levels over the last six months for any country. The levels for Egypt and Syria show sudden drops attributed to temporary internet blocks during the Arab Spring protests. Meanwhile, Libya had little or no access to Google services from March to August.

Richard Frost, managing editor at theEword, commented: "Governments may have the authority to request our data, but it is Google that has the rather formidable power to hand over that data. With so much responsibility on Google's shoulders, it is heartening to see initiatives like the Transparency Report that ring true with the company's 'Don't be evil' motto."

Here are the requests the UK government has made to Google since the Transparency Report began collecting stats:

Time periodContent removal requestsUser data requests
July to Dec 2009591,166
Jan to June 2010481,343
July to Dec 2010381,162
Jan to June 2011651,273

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