Google says government surveillance is on the rise

Associated Press

Google announced Tuesday the release of its latest transparency report, which reveals that the search giant is getting more government request than ever before.

Google's transparency report details takedown request from government agencies or organizations worldwide. Typical inquiries include the request to remove content that is in violation of copyright or local laws.The top reason for court orders issued to Google are defamation, and privacy and security.

Some examples of government takedown requests include: links to websites that allegedly defamed a politician's wife in Germany, 360 search results in India that may have violated a person's privacy and a request from the Russian Ministry of the Interior to remove 160 YouTube videos that supposedly contained extremist materials.

The report says that government agencies from around the world made a total of 20,938 inquiries in the first half of 2012. When Google launched its transparency report in 2010 the number of requests between July to Dec. 2009 was 12,539.

Google also reported the number requests by governments for user data information, and the percentage of compliance. In the United States, the government requested data from Google 7,969 times, about 16,281 user accounts. The search giant complied 90 percent of the time.

Google's report gives insight into its own data and possible trends overall, but does not paint a complete picture of how information might change hands between private companies and government agencies around the world.

"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," Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou said in a blog post. "But we're heartened that in the past year, more companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun to share their statistics too."

Google's full report can be found on its website.

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