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US gov requests for Google user data grow 29%

93-percent compliance rate

The US government has once again outdone its peers in requesting that Google turn over user data for use in criminal investigations, with almost 6,000 demands in the first half of 2011, a 29 per cent increase from the previous six months.

The 5,950 requests that US law enforcement agencies filed with YouTube and Google sought data on 11,057 users or accounts, the company said in its Transparency Report, which the company releases twice a year. Raw data is available here. That compared with 4,601 requests issued from July through December of 2010.

Google said it complied with 93 percent of the requests in the most recent period.

The country submitting the second-highest number of requests was India, with 1,739 requests covering 2,439 users or accounts. UK law enforcement agencies issued 1,273 requests covering 1,443 users or accounts.

Google said it received 92 requests to remove data from its services. The requests asked that 757 separate pieces of content be removed. Among them were requests from two separate agencies to remove a video purported to show police brutality and video footage said to be defaming law-enforcement officials. Google refused both requests. In all, Google said it fully or partially complied with 63 percent of such requests.

In an accompanying blog post, Google Senior Policy Analyst Dorothy Chou renewed calls to updated the 25-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows government investigators access many forms of electronic records without a warrant.

Google is the only major internet company that issues a Transparency Report. ®

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