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Google sees government data requests top 20,000 in first half of 2012

13 Nov 2012
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

Governments across the globe made nearly 21,000 requests for user data to Google in the first six months of 2012.

The numbers are up by 2,000 requests from the last six months of 2011, according to Google's latest Transparency Report. Google said that the US and the India made the most requests for data this year.

US officials reportedly requested Google hand over user data 7,969 times. While India asked for the firm to hand over user data 2,319 times.

"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise," wrote Google's senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou in a blog post.

In the UK, however, the number of user data requests has been almost static, with 1,425 requests made in the first half of 2012, compared to 1,455 in the last six months of 2011. In both periods Google complied with 64 percent of requests.

The big change in the UK has been in removal requests, where Google is asked to remove content from its services, such as search results. Here, the number of requests has doubled over the past six months.

Google has been releasing its Transparency Report since the second half of 2009. The report was created so Google could demonstrate how many site takedowns and user data requests the firm gets each year.

When the search giant began publishing the reports in the second half of 2009 governments were requesting user data information 12,539 times over a six month period. Requests have since grown each time Google has released the report.

Google said it complied, or partially complied, with US official's requests for data 90 percent of the time. However, India's requests for user data were only accepted at a 64 percent rate.

Google's report also details world government's requests for website takedowns on Google services. During the first half of 2012 takedown requests increased to 1,791. This represents a jump from the last six months of 2011 when only 1,048 requests were made worldwide.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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