U.S. Government Regularly Asks Google for Users' Data

The U.S. government asks for user data more often than does any other government.
  • Ed Oswald (PC World (US online))
  • 28 June, 2011 07:47

Not only does the U.S. government regularly request users' private data from Google, it does so more often than any other government, the search engine reported Monday. Google announced these details as part of its Transparency Report, a bi-annual disclosure of what governments worldwide are asking for.

In the second half of 2010 (July - December), the U.S. government made 4,601 requests for user information. Ninety-four percent of the time, Google either partially or completely complied with these requests. The other four of the top five countries that asked for user info during this period were Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and France--although the data shows that Google complied with these four countries' requests, on average, only about 70 percent of the time.

You might have thought China would be the most frequent offender here. However,Google says that the Chinese government made no requests for information during the period.

This may seem strange, but remember that China monitors all Internet traffic. Thus, it probably finds the data it needs on its own, and has no need to request such data from companies.

Altogether, more than 14,000 requests for user data were made during the period, the report indicates.

In addition to the user data requests, Google listed requests for having content removed from search results due to defamation or illicit content. In that category, the U.K. led the way with 93,518 requests. However, these requests included 93,300 AdWords ads over claims of fraud (which Google complied with), so it's really more like 218 requests. Using these modified numbers, Brazil led countries with 263 requests, followed by South Korea, Germany, Libya, and India.

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