Governments request more data from Google
The US government makes more requests for online user information than any other country, according to Google.
As part of its transparency report released last week, the internet search engine stated that the use of the data in criminal investigations in the US has risen almost 30 per cent in the first half of 2011.
It received 5,950 requests to from the government for user data – more than three times that of India, the second highest country on the list.
Australian officials made 361 user data requests for a total of 412 accounts – less than one-third of those made by the United Kingdom.
Google also reports on the content removal requests made by each country and includes data available on video-sharing website YouTube – which it owns.
These applications are significantly lower, with the US lodging 92 requests for the removal of 757 individual pieces of content.
Only ten requests were made by Australian law enforcement agencies – eight of which were for YouTube video and were made on the basis of privacy and security, defamation and hate speech.
One of the contributing factors to making these requests more transparent is Google's desire to encourage a review of the U.S. law regulating government access to online user information – The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
"The law was written in 1986 and is woefully out of date for today’s technology — the provisions of the law no longer match people's reasonable privacy protections for their digital data," wrote Google policy councillor Will DeVries in a blog post last year (September 24, 2010).
Google is part of the so-called Due Process Coalition looking to update the legislation, which also includes members such as Amazon, AOL, AT&T, Dropbox, Facebook and Microsoft.