Google Transparency Report: French government tops user data requests

Nov 14, 2012
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Google Transparency ReportEarlier this week, Google updated its Google Transparency Report – a report that shows, among other things, removal & data requests by governments & copyright holders to Google. The report details requests for removal from search, and shows an overall increase in the number of requests from governments to hand over data, as seen in the graph on the right. What was more shocking, however, was the sharp increase in the requests from governments to remove content from Google between Jan-June 2012 as compared to July-Dec 2011 – almost a 70% jump.

France beats UK & Germany to be Europe’s most nagging country

The transparency report also allows drill-down by country – it’s like Google Analytics for nagging countries. The beautiful US of A came in first with nearly 8,000 requests over 6 months – Google notes that this also includes requests “ issued by U.S. authorities on behalf of other governments pursuant to mutual legal assistance treaties and other diplomatic mechanisms.” In 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place were India (2319 requests) Brazil (1566) and France (1533 requests). 6 months prior, it sat in 6th place, behind the UK & Germany, but has since surpassed them.

Notable moments: A highlight real of Government suppression

Google’s transparency report also include a “notable observations” section – a sort of highlights real for government requests.

  • “In response to a court order, we removed 992 search results that allegedly violated the privacy of an individual.
  • “We received a request from legal representatives of a former politician to remove a blog post that allegedly defames him by explaining his connections with the pharmaceutical lobby. We did not remove content in response to this request.”
  • “The number of content removal requests we received increased by 132% compared to the previous reporting period.”

This last figure, 132%, is a bit shocking, but it seems to match with the overall trend in requests for content removal. Under half of the requests come from court orders, yet most of the requests for removal on the grounds of defamation come with a court order.