#transparency: Government requests to Google

In my last post I wrote about how I learned to use Google Fusion tables to create an interactive map.

I made another map this morning, featuring some data that fellow interhacktive, Sam Creighton, sent my way yesterday.

This one visualises requests that Google have received from governments the world over, asking for user data to be handed over. The data I mapped is for the period Jan 1st – Jun 30th 2012.

Some interesting figures from a cursory look at the data:

  • Google complied with 90% of requests from the US
  • Hungary, Russia and Turkey submitted a combined total of 262 requests from Jan – Jun, but Google didn’t comply with any of them
  • The US submitted more requests in the first 5 months of this year (7,969) than it did in the entirety of 2009 and 2010 combined (7,867).

Geopolitics aside, the last point is particularly interesting as it hints at how rapidly the digital world has grown, even over the last few years.

Google blogged about the rise in government requests earlier this week:

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. But we’re heartened that in the past year, more companies like DropboxLinkedInSonic.net 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.


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