Services & Software

Government surveillance continues to rise, Google says

The company's latest transparency report shows nearly 21,000 government requests for user data during the first half of the year.


Here's an item unlikely to surprise anyone who has followed how David Petraeus was brought down by a Gmail account: Google is getting more government requests for user data than ever before.

For the first half of this year, Google received 20,938 official requests for user data from governments around the world, affecting 34,614 accounts. That's up 67 percent from the second half of 2009, the first period in which Google reported the information publicly.

The United States led the way, making 209 requests during the reporting period. Germany, Brazil, Turkey, and France also made scores of requests.


Meanwhile, Google has received an increasing number of requests to remove links, videos, and other types of content from its services. The company has averaged about 1,000 such requests per six months over the past three years; in the first half of 2012, Google received 1,791 such requests from governments worldwide. The requests affected 17,746 items, Google said.

"The information we disclose is only an isolated sliver showing how governments interact with the Internet, since for the most part we don't know what requests are made of other technology or telecommunications companies," Google's Dorothy Chou said in a blog post. "But we're heartened that in the past year, more companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn,, and Twitter have begun to share their statistics too. Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the Internet free and open."

More information is available in the complete report.