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Google's government takedown requests are on the rise

Transparency report makes it clear
Wed Nov 14 2012, 09:43
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INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google reports that the number of requests it gets from world governments to remove material is rising.

The firm has released its latest transparency report that tells who is asking and how often it is asked to provide information about users and content. The report shows that the number of information and takedown requests is rising.


"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise," said Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou.

"Government demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report. 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 bulk of the requests are court ordered, police requests come in second across the board and are related to defamation. Requests relating to privacy come in second.

In the UK the number of requests has almost doubled, a 89 percent increase, but Google does not always takedown information when it is asked.

"We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 14 search results for linking to sites that criticize the police and claim individuals were involved in obscuring crimes," it says under a table named Notable exceptions and referring to the UK.

"We did not remove content in response to this request. In addition, we received a request from another local law enforcement agency to remove a Youtube video for criticizing the agency of racism. We did not remove content in response to this request."

UK government agencies and the police have made 1,425 requests for user data, and Google said that it fulfilled around two thirds of them. In the US where there were 7,969 requests, the firm complied in 90 percent of cases.

Copyright owners and related organisations asked Google to take down 8,073,583 URLS and 32,130 specified domains over the year. Most requests came from a group called Froytal Services. which asked for 1,370,254 URLs to be removed. This was followed by the BPI, British Phonographic Industry with 1,241,541, the RIAA with 1,154,932, and Microsoft with 527,173.

Filestube was the website that was hit with the most domain removal requests. µ


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