Government demands for Google data skyrocket

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google's getting more takedown requests than ever, particularly in the US.

It received 70 percent more content removal requests from the US between January and June this year than in the previous six months. The government also made 29 percent more requests for user data - 5,950 requests, the largest number of any country in the world.

Google says it complied 93 percent of the time.

"We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove," says the company.

"Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this report as defamation requests."

India generated the second-largest number of user data requests - more than 1,700. These included requests from state and local law enforcement agencies to remove YouTube videos that showed protests against social leaders. Most were refused, it says.

Google started releasing information about government data requests early last year.

"by showing traffic patterns and disruptions to our services, and by sharing how many government requests for content removal and user data we receive from around the world, we hope to offer up some metrics to contribute to a public conversation about the laws that influence how people communicate online," says senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou.

"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 email."