Google Updates Its Biannual Government Transparency Report


Google today updated its biannual Transparency Report that aims to provide greater transparency around the government requests for user data or the removal of content from the company’s servers. While this new report does not greatly diverge from earlier ones, the company did add one new data point: the number of user accounts that are specified in the requests the company receives.

As Google notes, this new data should help researchers and developers to “revisualize it in different ways, or mash it up with information from other organizations to test and draw up new hypotheses about government behaviors online.”

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The self-governing parliamentary Cook Islands in the South Pacific made their debut this year. As Google only received fewer than ten request from the former British protectorate, it won’t release any data about the nature of these requests.

As for the U.S., Google specifically notes that it did not comply with a number of requests that would have resulted in the deletion of videos that were allegedly portraying police violence. With regard to China, Google also notes that it received three requests to remove a total of 121 items from its services. Two involved AdWords and Google complied with those, but the company notes that it has “withheld details about one request because [it has] reason to believe that the Chinese government has prohibited [it] from full disclosure.”

You can find the full report here.


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Google’s Transparency Report: U.S. Government Filed More Requests for User Data Than Any Other Nation


For the third time now, Google has released its semi-annual Transparency Report, which shows how many removal and data requests the company receives from government agencies worldwide. This latest report covers the second half of 2010 and shows that the U.S. continues to lead when it comes to requesting private user data from Google. In total, U.S. government agencies filed 4,601 data requests in this time period and Google complied with 94% of these. This is the first time that Google has actually revealed the percentage of requests it has complied with (in whole or in part).

The number of requests U.S. agencies file with Google continues to climb. In the second half of 2009, the U.S. only made 3,580 requests.

When it comes to content removal requests, though, the U.S. trails a number of other nations. The U.S. filed 54 removal requests, covering 1,421 items, while the UK’s requests covered 93,518 items and South Korea’s government agencies wanted to see 32,152 items removed. Google complied with 100% of these requests from the UK and South Korea, but only with 87% of the U.S. requests. The number of requests form U.K. agencies is highly inflated by a single request from the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, though. This agency asked for the removal of 93,360 fraudulent Google Adwords ads.

As Google notes, Brazil also filed a large number of requests (263 covering 12,363 items). The company argues that this number is also inflated by a single request during the Fall election period in Brazil, however, as one single court ordered the removal of 11,500 photos from Picasa because of alleged copyright infringements. The popularity of Google’s social networking site orkut in Brazil is another reason for this high number.

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