Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) updated its transparency report on Thursday for the ninth time since 2009. This time, Google added information about countries that made less than 30 requests in a six-month reporting period and noted that government requests increased 120 percent since the report first launched.
Once again, the U.S. made the most requests for user data in the second half of 2013. With 10,574 in six months, the U.S. made more requests for user data than the next five countries (France, Germany, India, U.K. and Brazil) combined. Google reported that 83 percent of U.S. requests resulted in Google handing over some data.
Between Gmail, Android phones, Google Docs and several other services that require or recommend a Google account, a lot more people are providing Google with information today than five years ago. It only makes sense that government requests would increase along with the amount of users, but Google said that it’s more about governments making more and more requests.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the numbers updated in the report are legal requests for data, and not the number of requests made by intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency, which use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent Google from reporting these exact numbers.
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The transparency report also includes updated information on which countries blocked or disrupted Google services (Pakistan, China, Turkey and Iran), as well as information on requests to remove content from governments and private companies.
The U.S. led this category as well with 438 requests to remove content, with 27 of them pertaining to apps in the Google Play store that infringed on trademarks held by an unnamed federal government agency. Brazil came in second with 237 requests, but Google only complied with 46 percent as many pertained to removing blog posts that criticized public officials.
Governments made a total of 27,477 requests in the second half of 2013, and 1,335 requests to remove content. Private copyright owners made requests to remove more than 24 million URLS in that same time period.
Google also include an animated YouTube video to explain its process for handling user requests. Some Google users have complained about using such a playful style for an issue as serious as government surveillance, but the video does show how confusing the entire process is.