Google has created a new webpage that sheds some light on government requests directed to Google and YouTube. The search engine reveals it has received over 12,000 data requests from government agencies in the second half of 2009, the vast majority of these requests are for private user data that is needed for criminal investigations. The most active government was Brazil with 3,663 requests, followed by the US with 3,580 requests and the UK is at the third spot with 1,116 requests.
Additionally, Google also reveals it received more than 1,000 data removal requests, Brazil is again at the first spot with 291 requests, followed by Germany with 188 requests, and India takes the third place with 142 requests.
However, the search giant points out that the data is not 100% comprehensive or accurate. For example, China isn't included (yet) because Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets.
What do the numbers represent?
These numbers represent the number of requests we received from government entities for the removal of content or the disclosure of user data from July 1, 2009-December 31, 2009. There are limits to what this data can tell us. Some requests seek the removal of multiple pieces of content, or seek data for more than one account. There may also be multiple requests that ask for the removal of the same piece of content, or data for the same account. Because of the complexity of these requests, the numbers we are sharing do not reflect the total amount of content that we are asked to remove, nor the total number of accounts subject to data disclosure requests by governmental agencies. Also, this initial report doesn’t indicate whether Google complied with or challenged any request for user information, although we do provide percentages about our compliance with requests to remove content. We haven’t yet found a way to provide more detail about our compliance with user data requests in a useful way, but we plan to in the future.