Government Keeps a Keen Eye on Online Activity

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Google Inc.’s Transparency Report showed that the Indian government ranks second in its requests for user data from the search engine giant. This is an indication of the government’s increased efforts to track activities of persons on the internet. In the period from January to June, Indian government made 2,319 user data requests which were related to 3,467 user accounts. Google said in its report that the company had complied with 64% of the requests either partially or fully.

The figure is a 33% increase from the government’s user data requests during the same period last year and shows a 5% increase from the six months proceeding January 2012. During the period July to December 2012, the government’s user data requests were 2,207 relating to 3,427 accounts, and in the period January to June 2011, made 1,739 requests for user data pertaining to 2,439 accounts.

The U.S. ranked first in the number of user data requests with almost 8000 requests which saw a 26% increase from the previous period. Brazil came third bagging 1,566 requests.

Apart from requests for user data, governments also requested Google for the removal of content from its search results.

84 requests were made by India pertaining to 596 items, for the removal of content from search results of Google and other services, from January to June of this year. 68 requests relating to 360 items were made in the same period last year and 101 requests for 255 items in the second half of 2011. The 596 items, that were requested, were removed as it pertained to court orders or instruction from agencies such as the police.

Google said that the company had removed 360 search results relating to adult videos which had infringed on individual privacy based on court orders. 120 items were removed since they were defamatory in nature (according to court cases or requests from agencies). 75 items were removed since they had offensive content relating to religions.

Google Inc.’s Transparency Report indicated that there was a 71% rise in the government requests for removing content in the period from January to June. Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google mentioned in the report that Google comes out with the report in order to let the users know the impact of government action on the users. She also said that the requests which had remained largely flat during the period 2009 to 2011 saw a sudden spike in the current reporting period.

 

 

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