Google warns government internet surveillance is increasing

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Government surveillance is on the rise – that’s the conclusion of the latest Google Transparency report, which reveals that in the first half of 2012 there were close to 21,000 inquiries from government entities around the world.

This is the sixth Transparency Report from Google and it revealed that some 20,938 inquiries were made by governments into some 34,614 accounts.

The number of government requests to remove content from Google’s services were largely flat between 2009 to 2011.

However, in the first six months of 2012 this activity spiked with 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,756 pieces of content.

The majority of reasons for information removal requests  were down to court orders surrounding cases of defamation, followed by privacy and security and impersonation.

Google pointed out that sometimes it receives falsified court orders but works hard to determine the legitimacy of court documents.

The latest Transparency Report has been translated into 40 languages. Google pointed out that it is also heartened that more online companies including Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun to share their transparency statistics as well.

“Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the internet free and open,” said Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com