Govt increases requests on Google user data

Summary:Australian Government requests for Google user data are on the rise, according to the search giant's transparency report updated yesterday.

Australian Government requests for Google user data are on the rise, according to the search giant's transparency report updated yesterday.

The transparency report is compiled by Google every six months to inform its users just how many times governments around the world have requested private data for the purposes of investigation. It also includes a detailed breakdown of material removed from search results and sites like YouTube due to court order or user request.

In the six months from January to June this year, Google received 361 Australian government requests for the disclosure of user data from Google services. That's up from 345 requests between July and December 2010.

It is important to note that the amount of requests complied with have actually gone down in the six months between January and June 2011. Google Australia complied with 73 per cent of 361 requests in the first six months of 2011, meaning that it complied with approximately 263 requests. Compare that to the July to December 2010 results, however, and you find that Google Australia complied with 81 per cent of 345 requests, disclosing approximately 279 records.

Google's report also revealed that the various requests involved 412 different users or accounts.

By comparison, US government agencies lodged 5950 requests for user data from over 11,000 users and accounts. Google in the US complied with 93 per cent of requests. The number of requests is up by 1349 compared to July-December 2010 numbers.

"The number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year," Google said in its reports, adding that "the increase isn't surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users."

Google Australia also complied with a number of content takedown requests in the six months between January and June, removing four pieces of content from YouTube and search results. The search giant reported that it had declined to take down six pieces of content.

Topics: Google, Government, Government : AU, Security


A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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