Google reveals increase in government requests for user data
The United States is leading the charge as governments around the world have made more demands to take a look at the information Google has collected about its users.
Google received 6,321 requests from the U.S. government for user data in the latter half of 2011 and complied at least in part with 93 percent of them, according to the biannual transparency report released by the search engine operator late on Sunday. The number of user data requests marked an increase of 6.2 percent over the previous six-month period and 37 percent from a year earlier.
It’s the fifth time that Google has voluntarily provided the transparency report, which includes data back from July 2009, to maximize transparency around the flow of information. Google is the only major Internet company that publicly states the number of requests made by agencies.
One example of the requests Google receives might be for the IP addresses of users who log into their accounts, which law enforcement agents use to locate individuals involved in criminal cases, said Dorothy Chu, a senior policy analyst at Google, in an interview.
Google has a far lower rate of complying with foreign requests, however. It complied with only 24 percent of such requests from Canada, 44 percent from France and 64 percent from Britain. The number of user data requests from outside the U.S. increased 24.3 percent in one year.
South Korea made 257 requests in 2011, a 35.2 percent jump from 190 requests in 2010.