Government Requests of Google

Hard to know what to make of this. Google says that greater transparency will lead to less censorship. The UK is high in the top 10 for both requests and removals, yet neither number (1166 and 59 respectively) seems like “a lot”, whatever that might mean. As google says, “We’re new at this, and we’re still learning the best way to collect and present this information. We’ll continue to improve this tool and fine-tune the types of data we display.” I’d start with “here’s the problem we’re trying to solve”, from the FAQ:

Do your statistics cover all categories of data requests from governments?

No, the statistics primarily cover requests in criminal matters. We can’t always be sure that a request necessarily relates to a criminal investigation, however, so there are likely a small number of requests that fall outside of this category. For example, we would include in the statistics an emergency request from a government public safety agency seeking information to save the life of a person who is in peril even though there is not necessarily a criminal investigation involved. As we improve our tracking, we may add more categories.   

How many of these requests did you comply with?

The “removal request” numbers represent the number of requests we have received, and the percentage we complied with in full or in part per country. The “data requests” numbers reflect the number of requests we received about the users of our services and products from government agencies like local and federal police. They don’t indicate whether we complied with a request for data in any way. When we receive a request for user information, we review it carefully and only provide information within the scope and authority of the request. We may refuse to produce information or try to narrow the request in some cases.   


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