Google complies with 93 percent of US requests for user data

Worldwide government requests for user/entity information and requests to remove content from Google jumped dramatically in the first half of the year, with the United States topping the list for user information requests, according to a report from Google.

The company's Transparency Report breaks down information by country. It is the first time Google has broken down the requests by the number of users and accounts affected.

The United States had the highest number of user data requests at 5,950; India came in second at 1,739. Of these requests by the U.S. government, Google complied 93 percent of the time. The U.S. government’s requests represent a 29 percent increase over the previous six months.

The U.S. government was also high on the list for content removal requests with 92, ranking third. Brazil was first at 224 and Germany second at 125. Google complied with the U.S. government’s content removal requests 63 percent of the time.

Google released the information to spur governments to modernize their laws regarding access to user information and provide more transparency into regulatory environments, said Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst, on Google’s official blog.

“We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago — long before the average person had ever heard of e-mail...," Chou wrote. "We hope others join us in the effort to provide more transparency, so we’ll be better able to see the bigger picture of how regulatory environments affect the entire Web.”

According to a Wired blog, Google is alone in providing this data to the public.

Google has faced criticism of its privacy breaches from both Congress and individuals alike. The Federal Trade Commission on Oct. 25 announced its finalized settlement with the company over privacy breaches regarding its Google Buzz tool, which has since been taken down.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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