Google: Governments seek more about you than ever
by Elinor Mills
A new report from Google shows a rise in government requests for user account data and content removal, including a request by one unnamed law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality–which the company refused.
The latest Google Transparency Report, released today, also shows historic traffic patterns on Google services via graphs with spikes and drops indicating outages that, in some cases, indicate attempts by governments to block access to Google or the Internet. For instance, all Google servers were inaccessible in Libya during the first six months of this year, as was YouTube in China.
But the truly interesting data are the statistics on requests made to the company by governments for either access to user data or to remove content.
Some countries had large amounts of user data requests. The United States leads that pack, with 5,950 such requests pertaining to more than 11,000 users or accounts, and to which Google complied 93 percent of the time. That’s up from about 4,600 requests in the second half of last year. Other countries seeking lots of user data were India (more than 1,700 requests involving more than 2,400 accounts), France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Google says it complied most of the time in those cases, except in France.
The actual numbers are likely larger than what is reported because Google is prohibited by law from revealing information on requests from intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency or FBI, notes online privacy advocate Chris Soghoian, who released a report on law enforcement surveillance earlier this year.