Google has released its annual Transparency Report which lists among other things, the numbers that show how many requests are made by various government around the world for information on user trends on those use Google and its other products. The report Mail Online notes, also shows how often governments ask for account information of Google products users.
Online notes that the numbers show a steep climb in the number of requests made by governmental entities over last year’s report, indicating that governments all over the world are increasing turning to using pressure to obtain information about people. Chief among them are governments in the United States, who topped all other requesters with 7,969. They note that Google doesn’t comply with all such requests, but those that are made for purposes of catching criminals are almost always granted.
The report is the sixth thus far produced by Google who began publishing the report after criticism by some in the user community who became aware of government requests via news sources. In all there were 20,938 requests from various governments around the world. The company says such requests can come from law enforcement officials, courts, and government officials seeking information. Most they say are for search histories, which can be used as evidence in a court of law. Other requests include viewing preferences on YouTube (owned by Google), documents stored on free servers, pictures posted to Picasa, or so-called private posts to Blogger (also owned by Google).
In its report, Google says that requests rose from 18,257 last year and from 15,744 the year before, showing that there is a definite trend of governments making more and more request each year. Google notes that some requests, such as those to take down content, are quite often regional in nature. One example is where Brazil routinely requests that pictures, blog posts, and other commentary that is political in nature be taken down during elections, as such content is illegal in that country. The company says that complied with ninety percent of requests in the past half year (the report comes out twice a year) reflecting its desire to assist law enforcement and not become a tool for criminal use.
Online says a spokesman for the BBC said the report has become rather a bellwether for news organizations around the world, offering up a reflection on views regarding acceptable content in countries around the world as well as the desire by some governments to suppress dissent.