Friday, 28 October 2011

Google requests

Bruce Schneier points to some Google data on government demands for information.

One measure of a government's invasiveness could be the number of times it prods Google to take down content or provide information on users.

In no quarter in the released data did the New Zealand government request any information about users. Or at least that's what I gather from the ghosted tab in each quarter. In no quarter were there more than 10 requests for content take-down.

Another measure of reasonableness might be the number of such requests that Google bats back. In the second half of 2009, Google complied with 0% of <10 requests from NZ; I don't know whether any requests were received that period. Google complied with 83% of <10 requests in the first half of 2010, which likely means NZ made one unreasonable request. 100% of <10 requests were complied with in second half 2010, and 60% of <10 were complied with in first half 2011, which I reckon to be 2 requests (otherwise you don't get a round percentage).

I am far far less worried about Google than I am about governments' ability to force the delivery of user data. Google I trust - they just want to help people sell stuff to me. The better the ads I see, the more likely the ads are to actually be useful to me. No harm. But governments are aren't as trustworthy. And so it pleases me that my government seems to have made no requests for user data and makes relatively few unreasonable take-down requests, though I suppose that might change with our being beaten into compliance with American copyright demands.

Australia, 10 times our size, had 361 user data requests in first half 2011; Google complied with 73% of requests.

The United States had 5950 user data requests on 11,057 accounts in the first half of 2011. Here's one such request that Google declined: the American government wished Google expunge a video allegedly demonstrating American police brutality. More reason to trust Google more than your government.

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