Google receives user data inquiries from government agencies all over the world and complies, at least in some part, to nearly all of them. The information giant partially complied with 93% of the 6,321 U.S. government requests it received in the second half of 2011.
The total requests amount for the first of 2011 was 5,950 which was a 37% increase from the second half of 2010, according to a Forbes article.
Google began reporting these requests to the public in its Transparency Report. It began publishing the percentage of complied (whole or in part) data for the second half of 2010 and began publishing the number of users or accounts about which data was requested. For the second half of 2011, the U.S. accounted for a third of the world’s government requests at 6,321 – India was second at 2,207. The U.S. also had the highest compliance percentage at 93%, just ahead of Brazil’s 90%. The company denied all requests from Russia, Turkey and Hungary.
According to the Forbes article, Google requires the requests to be in written form and from the appropriate agency citing a criminal case with narrow demands to protect other users.
”The data can often be very critical to a case,” Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst for Google, said in the article. ”We want to show that we’re advocating on your behalf. But we also want to do right by the spirit and letter of the law.”
Many of the requests, however, coming from various countries are in regards to removing political content.
“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” Chou wrote in the company’s blog.
For the last six months of 2011, Google complied with 65% of court orders and only 47% of informal requests.
“We realize that the numbers we share can only provide a small window into what’s happening on the web at large,” Chou said in the blog. “But we do hope that by being transparent about these government requests, we can continue to contribute to the public debate about how government behaviors are shaping our web.”
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