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Google report reveals dramatic increase in government web surveillance

Laura Barnes
Google report reveals dramatic increase in government web surveillance

The number of requests for content removal in the UK increased 98 per cent in the first half of 2012, according to Google’s latest Transparency Report.

“We think it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect our users. When we first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web,” wrote Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst, on Google’s blog.

“So we took our first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests we received. At the time, we weren’t sure how things would look beyond that first snapshot, so we pledged to release numbers twice a year.”

Government demands for user data have increased steadily since the Transparency Report was first launched. The latest report shows that from January to June 2012, there were 20,938 inquires from government entities around the world.

With regards to the UK government, there were 1,425 requests for user data, and 79 requests to remove content, this includes two YouTube videos cited as hate speech, and 14 search results accused of government criticism.

The UK is currently considering a bill which requires internet and phone companies to track all web and mobile phone use, and then store it for 12 months.

Are we happy the government is looking out for us all, or is this yet another step towards 'big brother'...

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Tags: Google, youtube, government surveillance, Transparency Report

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