San Francisco: Google is being pulled into an increasing number of police and government investigations around the world as authorities seek to learn more about the people who use its Internet search engine, email and other services. The latest snapshot of law enforcement agencies' efforts to extract personal information from Google emerged in a Wednesday report from the company.
Governments presented Google with 21,389 requests for information on 33,634 of its users during the last six months of 2012. The number of requests was up 17 percent from a year earlier. Authorities in the US delivered nearly 8,438 of the requests, representing nearly 40 percent of the worldwide total. The US volume was one-third higher than in the same period the previous year.
Subpoenas accounted for 68 per cent of US requests, followed by search warrants at 22 per cent. A mix of court orders and other legal demands made up the remaining US requests for user information from Google.
India generated the second highest number of user requests during the final half of last year at 2,431, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year.
Since 2010, Google has been disclosing the total number of subpoenas, search warrants and other legal requests that it receives.
The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, said it plans to release a report within the next few months on the number of government demands it receives to remove videos, blog entries and other content from its services. That data also will cover the July-December period.
Highlights of Google's observations on requests from India from 2009 to 2012:
January to June 2012
"In response to a court order, we removed 360 search results. The search results linked to 360 web pages that contained adult videos that allegedly violated an individual's personal privacy."
July to December 2011
"The number of content removal requests we received increased by 49 per cent compared to the previous reporting period."
January to June 2011
"We received requests from state and local law enforcement agencies to remove YouTube videos that displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders. We declined the majority of these requests and only locally restricted videos that appeared to violate local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities. In addition, we received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 236 communities and profiles from orkut that were critical of a local politician. We did not remove content in response to this request, since the content did not violate our Community Standards or local law."
July to December 2010
"We received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states. We did not remove content in response to these requests. The number of content removal requests we received increased by 123 per cent compared to the previous reporting period."
July to December 2009
"In the last half of 2009, the majority of Indian requests for removal of content from orkut related to alleged impersonation or defamation."