TMCnet Feature
October 26, 2011

The Pressure Is On Google for Personal Data

By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

Google (News - Alert) is consistently being targeted by government officials to release the personal data of its users, the company is reporting.

Google Inc. reported on its interactions with governments globally, the fourth time the company has gone ahead and released the requests it receives and this time they’ve actually included the total number of users actually targeted, AP reports.

Google’s Transparency Report shows that the government continues to increase its demands for data about users of online services.

Between January and June 2011, U.S. law enforcement agents made 5,950 requests for data about Google users. That was not only by far the highest reported total — India was second with 1,739. The U.S. government has continued to ramp up these demands.

U.S. authorities made 113 requests for video content to be removed, with one request under the note of “showing government criticism”.

France came in at 1,300 requests, up 27 percent, Britain had 1,273 requests, up 10 percent and Germany had 1,060 requests, up 38 percent.

Google said six of the requests related to videos on its YouTube (News - Alert) site that raised national security concerns. Twelve were court orders linked to defamation, privacy and other issues. The search giant notes that the data is difficult to break down and to be made into a format for which users can understand and have simplified controls over the released data.

“Governments ask companies to remove content for many different reasons. For example, some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography. Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction,” it stated on the Transparency Report government request page.

As far as China is concerned, its search results were subject to censorship pursuant to requests from government agencies responsible for Internet regulation. Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, and so Google is not at liberty to disclose any information about content removal requests for the two reporting periods from July 2009 to June 2010.

In related news, in May 2011, the State Council Information Office in China announced a transfer of its offices which regulated the internet to a new subordinate agency, the State Internet Information Office which would be responsible for regulating the internet in the People's Republic of China.

In fact, Internet rules are so stringent in China that recently, rumor mongers were detained for falsely posting news item about a sick man who killed eight village heads in Yunnan.

According to a story issued by AFP, any person caught spreading rumors online will be detained.

Three people, including a website editor, have been punished for spreading rumors online, according to a statement issued by the State Internet Information Office on Tuesday.

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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