Google’s latest biannual Transparency Report discloses an increase in government requests for user data and take downs. In the last half of 2011, government agencies requested the removal of 6,192 items posted on Google sites and asked for information from 12,243 Google user accounts.
Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou blogged some analysis of the data in the report:
Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.
Chou noted that it’s not just the countries you would expect asking for the takedowns.
Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests.
Google did, however, comply partially or fully with 42 percent of the “requests,” which includes court orders as well as more informal asks. The majority of requests related to criminal investigations.
Amanda Simmons at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Google report: Government agency requests for content removal and user data rise globally and in U.S.