Feds Ask Google to Release User Data 767 Times a Month

The U.S. government led 26 countries in requests for user data and had the highest compliance rate by Google, the search engine reported Monday.

U.S. officials asked Google for user data 4,601 times in the last six months of 2010 and Google complied, at least partially, 94 percent of the time, according to Google's new Transparency Report. The U.S. requests rose almost 30 percent from 3,580 for the same time period in 2009. The United States was followed by Brazil with 1,804 and India with 1,699 requests. Both Brazil and India received 76 and 79 percent compliance from Google respectively.

This is the first time Google has recorded its compliance rate, so there were no previous numbers to compare the rate. However, the U.S. rate of 94 percent is significantly higher than any other country. Only Japan, with 72 requests, comes close with 90 percent compliance.

Google also removed content because of 54 U.S. government requests. According to the country detail, the most common item for removal seemed to be defamation, with Google Groups responsible for 1,110 actions alone, mainly because of six court orders "relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family."

The largest number of requests for removal came from the United Kingdom which asked for 93,518 "fraudulent" Google AdWords ads to be taken down, according to Google. In Thailand, Google also took action on material "mocking or criticizing the king," which is against Thai law. Google reacted by restricting the material being seen by Thai users.

Although the report was written to show transparency, Google released a caveat which said that not all requests and content removals data is used, mainly because the vast majority of requests to pull YouTube video comes from corporations or companies alleging copyright infringement.

It's not surprising that Google would be most compliant with the United States. After all, it has the home court advantage and Google needs to keep the federal government happy -- especially now that it's facing Federal Trade Commission scrutiny.

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