Government surveillance of citizen’s online activities is rapidly increasing globally except perhaps in Africa, according to Google’s latest Transparency Report. Nearly 21,000 requests were made in the first half of 2012.
Since 2009, Google has been publishing the report detailing the requests semi-annually.
The requests, which include access to personal data, such as search results, Gmail accounts and removal of YouTube videos, have risen sharply from nearly 12,500 in the first half of 2009.
“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, said.
According to the Transparency Report, which shows government requests to search engine giant Google to remove content and hand over user data to state agencies, the government agencies made nearly 1800 requests to remove some 17,700 pieces of content in the first six months of 2012. Nearly doubling around 950 requests made in the same period in 2011, and up from about 1,000 requests made in the second half of last year.
Among the sharpest increase came from Turkey, whose elections were held in June 12, 2011. Google recorded 1,013 percent rise in requests from Turkish authorities, including 148 requests to remove 426 YouTube videos, Blogger blogs, one Google document and one search result.
The United States led in requests with about 8,000, up from almost 6,300 in the last reporting period. The number is way above a third of nearly 21,000 requests globally. Google said in a blog post that it fully or partially complied with 90 percent of the requests.
Over the period, Google says it was asked to delete seven YouTube videos that allegedly criticized local and state agencies, as well as police and other public officials it says it failed to comply with.
Europe accounted for five of the top 10 countries that made requests, with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK in the top ten. No African country featured in the top 20.
The governments worldwide sited three major reasons for requesting removal of content, including defamation, privacy and security.
“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.
“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. Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the internet free and open,” Google said.
Countries that made most requests for data include:
-United States (7,969)
Countries that made most requests to remove content include:
- United States (273)
-United Kingdom (97)