Google’s Transparency Report for January to June 2012 reveals that the United States lead in “Government requests for disclosure of user data from Google accounts or services,” making 7,969 requests of 16,281 accounts/users, with which Google complied, “fully or partially,” of 90%.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Jillian York, the director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that this new data shows the increasing pressure from governments.
‘This is particularly insidious because, in doing so, that content is not merely hidden behind a firewall but instead disappears entirely,’ she wrote in an e-mail to Ars on Monday.
‘Google’s transparency is a good thing and other companies should follow in its footsteps, but transparency isn’t always enough. Companies need to regularly evaluate their presence in certain countries and ensure that they’re not complicit in human rights violations.’
The Guardian has an interesting piece which includes this summary:
The latest report, which covers up to the end of the second quarter of this year shows that in the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from governments around the world. Those requests were for information about 34,614 accounts – these are users’ accounts.
The number of government requests to remove content from Google’s services was largely flat from 2009 to 2011. But the latest data shows a huge spike: in the first half of 2012, there were 1,789 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.
For some analysis, read Kevin Gosztola at FDR. That includes attention to the kind of “data requests” not covered by the Google report, which focus primarily on “requests in criminal matters.”
This means that the statistics very likely don’t cover the most troublesome surveillance authorities passed after 9/11, such as National Security Letters, Patriot Act orders under Section 215, and the increasingly opaque FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (which replaced and in some ways expanded the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program). …
The latest transparency report clearly demonstrates an expansion of the Surveillance State. In addition to authorities becoming more comfortable with censoring content, it suggests authorities are becoming more amenable to requesting user data. The idea that this violates freedom of expression or the digital due process rights of citizens is increasingly no bother to those with the power at their fingertips to exercise this authority. And, as with the previous report, what the report does not tell us about the activities of the national security state is actually more frightening than the data, which Google has chosen to share with the public.
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