Rise in attempts by governments to monitor Google


Almost 21,000 requests for information were made to Google by governments in the first half of 2012.

The figure emerged as part of Google’s recent Transparency Report, with the American government again the most zealous in pursuing data with 7,969 requests.

British appeals doubled to 1,425 during the first six months of 2012, with the search engine giant complying with 64 per cent of these requests.

Dorothy Chou, Google’s Senior Policy Analyst, told the BBC that, “This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise.

“It reflects laws on the ground. For example in Turkey there are specific laws about defaming public figures whereas in Germany we get requests to remove neo-Nazi content. And in Brazil we get a lot of requests to remove content during elections because there is a law banning parodies of candidates.

“We hope that the report will shed light on how governments interact with online services and how laws are reflected in online behaviour.”

In total requests for user data affected 34, 614 people, with governments seeking to gain access to their search history, Gmail accounts or YouTube videos. 

The Turkish government made 501 requests for content to be taken down, with the US making 273 whilst Germany was third with 247 demands. The most common reasons for removing information or online content are defamation, privacy breaches or security issues.

The report also disclosed the fact that a British law enforcement agency made 14 requests to have information criticising the police removed but Google rejected their appeals. The company also turned down a demand to remove a YouTube video that accused the police of racism.


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