Google has updated its global Transparency Report, which throws a spotlight onto government agency requests to disclose user data or remove content in the last six months of 2010.
Google's Australian results revealed that less than 10 government requests were received to take down less than 10 items of published content in the six months between July and December 2010. The search giant reported that it managed to comply with 80 per cent of Australian government requests.
In the six months between January and June 2010, Google Australia had received 14 content removal requests for items on web Search, Google Maps, Groups and YouTube, with 639 items flagged for removal.
Australia's content take-down requests stand in stark comparison to that of US government counterparts, with Google receiving 54 content removal requests asking that 1421 items be removed — reasons ranged from defamation to national security. Google managed to comply with 87 per cent of US government requests in the six-month period.
Google also cited six US court orders that resulted in the removal of 1110 items from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.
Several other countries had significant removal requests, including the United Kingdom with 93,518 items requested to be removed (89 per cent complied with fully or in part) and Brazil, with 12,363 items asked to be removed (76 per cent compliance rate). South Korea asked for 32,152 items to be removed, and that country got its wish, with 100 per cent compliance on Google's part.
Many other countries came in with less than 10 items asked to be removed, including Pakistan and Hong Kong.
Additionally, several countries are listed in the report but lack any content removal requests at all. Some examples include Ireland, Finland and China, although the latter is questionable given the uneasy relationship between Google and China.
Australian government agencies also lodged 345 requests for user data disclosure, up from 200 in the previous six months. Google Australia managed to fully or partially comply with 81 per cent of requests for the July to December period. US government agencies on the other hand lodged 4601 requests for user data and Google complying with 94 per cent of requests.
Google said that user data requests had increased compared to the previous reporting period because of a change in how Google categorised requests for data rather than an increase in the number of requests. It said the number of requests it received for user account information as part of criminal investigations increases every year, but said this isn't surprising as each year the company offers more services and has more users.
The intention behind the Transparency Report is to provide information about "how the web is shaped by government influence", and how Google responds while trying to protect privacy.