Google’s “Transparency Reports” regularly reveal the Governments’ demands for data. India continues to lead in the race for seeking the same from the search giant. In the second half of 2012, a total of 2,431 demands came from the Indian Government. Luckily, the United States Government seems to be the most demanding by making over 8,400 requests for information of more than 14,800 users. Whereas in India’s case, the 2,431 requests were made to seek information about 4,106 users.
The rest of the top 5 countries included France, Germany & Britain.
Why the need to seek information on a public platform?
Some very interesting corollaries emerged when seeking information. Many requests came from Judges via Search Warrants when there was a ‘probable cause’ related to a crime. Meanwhile a majority of requests were made through subpoenas, which don’t involve official judiciary. Interestingly, the Governments make so many requests, not all of them are complied with. Over the years, a stricter Google seems to be emerging. In early 2010, Google toed the Govt.’s line for more than 80% of the cases, this reduced to 76% in the second half of 2010. However come 2012, this number has dropped to 68%.
Does this mean Google is getting tougher?
Not quite. Denying compliance doesn’t necessarily mean Google is acting tough. It merely means there isn’t probable cause or justifiable reason to comply. In some cases, requests were made to take down content that was perceived as offensive or hurtful to a section of the population. However, upon scrutiny, Google chose to let the content stay as it couldn’t get verifiable & comprehensive data that supported the claim.
Governments while claiming to be liberal, seem to have become more paranoid. However, Google being a private company can choose to stand its ground. Do you think Google should comply more often or should Governments back off a little?
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