U.S., U.K. Requests to Remove Google Content Rise

Google Logo NEW - H 2012

Google Logo NEW - H 2012

"Government surveillance is on the rise," Google says in its latest Transparency Report.

U.S. and U.K. authorities during the first half of 2012 increased their number of requests to Internet giant Google to remove content from its web site and share data about Google users.

"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise," Google said in a blog post summarizing its latest Transparency Report.

Authorities around the world made 1,791 requests for Google to remove 17,746 pieces of content in the first six months of 2012, nearly twice the 949 requests recorded in the year-ago period and up from the 1,048 reported in the back-half of 2011.

"The number of government requests to remove content from our services was largely flat from 2009 to 2011," Google said. "But it’s spiked in this reporting period." The number of content removal requests from the U.S. increased by 46 percent over the previous reporting period, it said. The number of requests for content removal in the U.K. shot up 98 percent, while Spain saw a 60 percent increase.

One of the sharpest rises came in requests from Turkey, which held an election last June. Google reported a 1,013 percent increase in requests from Turkish authorities in the latest reporting period, including 148 requests to remove 426 YouTube videos, blog posts and the like.

In the first six months of this year, authorities worldwide also made 20,939 requests for access to personal data of Google users, including search results, access to Gmail accounts and removal of YouTube videos. That was up from 18, 257 in the last six months of 2011.

Google said it fully or partially complied with 90 percent of those requests. Requests have continuously risen from the 12,539 recorded in the last six months of 2009, when Google first published its Transparency Report.

The U.S. accounted for the most requests, as it has consistently done since the first report. U.S. authorities asked for private details of Google users on 7,969 occasions, up from 6,321 in the previous reporting period, according to Google's .

Europe now accounts for five of the top 10 countries making requests for user data. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. are all in the top 10 in terms of the numbers of requests.

France and Germany, two countries that have pressed hard for more online privacy, made the most requests out of any European countries in the latest reporting period. Google said it complied with fewer than half of all requests in both countries.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai