Google, YouTube received 10,000 government requests for user data

The vast majority of requests for private user data "are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations"

Google and the Google-owned YouTube received more than 10,000 requests for user data from government agencies in the six months ending Dec. 31, 2009, according to newly released data.

"Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products," Google says on a new site that sheds more light onto government demands for user information and requests to take offensive material off the Web.

The vast majority of requests for private user data "are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations." Likewise, many requests to remove videos and other content are valid, for example requests to nix child pornography, Google notes.

"However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available," Google said in its blog Tuesday. "We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship."

Between July 1 and Dec. 31, Google received 3,580 requests for user data from U.S. government agencies, slightly less than the 3,663 originating from Brazil. The United Kingdom and India sent more than 1,000 requests each, and smaller numbers originated from various other countries.

Brazil also sent the most requests to remove content, at 291. Germany was second with 188 such requests, followed by India with 142 and the United States with 123. Google fully or partially complied with 80% of content removal requests in the United States.

The numbers are imperfect, because a single request could consist of multiple users' data or removal of multiple URLs. There could also be multiple requests for the same data or to remove the same content.

So far, Google is not saying how often it complies with government requests for user data, but said it plans to in the future.

"We would like to be able to share more information, including how many times we disclosed data in response to these requests, but it's not an easy matter," Google says. "The requests we receive for user data come from a variety of government agencies with different legal authorities and different forms of requests. Given all this complexity, we haven't figured out yet how to categorize and quantify these requests in a way that adds meaningful transparency, but we plan to in the future."

In related news on Tuesday, Google was sent an open letter by government regulators from several countries demanding that the company respect national laws on user privacy.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyGoogle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?