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Google shows user info request spike

24 January 2013, 11:20 Duncan Alfreds

Nairobi - The US government has made an increasing number of requests for private information, according to Google regular Transparency Report, released on Wednesday.

According to the search giant, governments have been increasing their requests for user data since 2009.

"User data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70% since 2009, as you can see in our new visualisations of overall trends. In total, we received 21 389 requests for information about 33 634 users from July through December 2012," Google said.

Most of the requests for user information have come from developed countries and Google complied with 88% of 8 438 data requests for users in the US.

In the UK, there was a 70% compliance with 1 458 user data requests in 2012.


According to the Transparency Report, the South African government made no user data requests.

The growth in the number of users online has prompted many governments to react strongly to information deemed undesirable online and Google traditionally complies with user data requests where it supported by court documents.

The Arab Spring wave of popular insurrection has seen many governments, particularly in repressive countries, view the internet as a threat to state power and there have been several shutdowns of internet websites like Facebook and YouTube, often used by activists to spread their message.

The Russian parliament recently approved a bill that would allow the government to blacklist websites deemed undesirable and Freedom House in 2012 found that Pakistan, Bahrain and Ethiopia were among 20 countries that rolled back internet freedoms.

Google insists that it provides the information to create social pressure on governments to limit their tendency toward censorship.

"We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual," Google said.

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