As for the last two years, search giant Google has released comprehensive reports twice yearly regarding the frequency of take-down requests along with government data requests it has received in the various countries around the world. Here the latest data, released this week provides us with insight to the first half of 2011. Well the results were surprising as the statistics showed that the United States continues to lead the rest of the world in spying on Google users.
According to the released documents, US law enforcement agencies made 5,950 separate requests for user data from 11,057 separate user accounts. In addition, also Google reported that it complied with the these requests 93 percent of the time and was almost a 40 percent increase in the number of requests compared to the same period one year earlier. For comparison on a per capita basis, France weighed in with a mere 1,300 request followed up by the United Kingdom with only 1,273. Outside of these three, other nations remained far behind, however who was really left? China?
For takedowns, both Brazil and Germany were the leaders primarily due to the popularity of Orkut in Brazil, were Google has addressed 224 requests to “takedown” 689 various items from Google services in Brazil. Whereas in Germany they received a total of 125 request’s for the removal of 2,405 various items. Interestingly enough 1,585 were related to allegedly defamatory search results, which leads one to wonder about the freedom of speech in the farther land.
However what was of greater interest is this gives us a peek into how Google deals with censorious issues around the globe. For example here at home in the United States, Google received many requests from [unnamed] law enforcement agencies to remove videos which allegedly depicted police brutality taking place or the defamation of police officers. Here Google claims that it declined these requests.
Yet on the down side in India, Google was pressured to remove YouTube videos which “displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders.” Per Google, they declined to remove the majority of the videos, however agreed to blocked access within India based upon cases where local law requires it.
One of the countries which I found interesting was Japan as being a nation of 127 million, Google fielded only a microscopic 75 user data requests and no takedown requests. However what drives this difference is Google just not as popular in the land of the rising sun, or does it simply reflect legal and cultural differences between Japan and Western nations…