Google Transparency Report: Government requests on the rise

Google thinks it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect its users. When Google first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web. Google took first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests it received. The latest 6th-monthly Transparency Report was updated 14 November and can be found on the Google Blogspot. It covers government requests to Google from January to June 2012.

This is the sixth release of data and one trend is clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. Government demands for user data have increased steadily. In the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world. Those requests were for information about 34,614 accounts.

The number of government requests to remove content was largely flat from 2009 to 2011. But it’s spiked in this reporting period. In the first half of 2012, there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.

Country-by-country trends for requests to hand over user data and to remove content from Google services can be seen in the Transparency Report itself, but in aggregate around the world, the numbers continue to go up. The entire Transparency Report is in 40 languages. For more details including graphics, visit the googleblog and read the post by Dorothy Chou:!/2012/11/transparency-report-government-requests.html