Google Map Reveals Britain Is Third In The world for ‘Big Brother’ Requests About Its Citizens
Britain is ranked third in the world for the number of requests by the State demanding personal information about internet users.
Google said only Brazil and the U.S had recorded more requests for information about citizens’ email accounts and passwords.
The 1,166 applications made by the Government, police and even local councils between July and December last year was the equivalent of more than six every day.
The Google Government Requests tool shows how many data and censorship demands the search giant receive every six month
Critics said it was proof the authorities remain determined to mount surveillance operations against the public.
Labour previously considered plans for a vast state database storing details of every person’s emails and internet visits.
The idea was scrapped in favour of forcing internet companies to store the data and make it available to the police and security services upon request.
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID privacy campaign, said it was clear the Government remained determined to access the public’s most sensitive details.
He added: ‘A trickle could soon become a flood.’
Google published the global list of requests it has received for personal information yesterday, but refused to reveal how many it had complied with.
The company announced the country-by-country breakdown on its official blog, after it criticised for its approach to privacy. The data covers the final half of last year and will be updated every six months.
‘We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship,’ the blog declared.
The search giant is providing a limited snapshot of government requests for its users’ personal information. Britain made hundreds more requests than France and more than twice as many as Italy, Germany and Spain.
The numbers are confined primarily to demands made as part of criminal cases, leaving out civil matters such as divorces. Google isn’t revealing how often it cooperated with those data demands.
Google also revealed it received 59 requests from British Government departments to remove material from its services – 43 of which were related to YouTube. The company said they complied with 76 per cent of them. This placed the UK sixth on the league table.
Reasons included violations of Google’s own policies regarding extreme violence, profanity and hate speech. Many of the requests included a court order, Google said.
Google excluded removal requests related to allegations of copyright infringement on YouTube.
It marks the first time that the search giant has provided such a detailed look at the censorship and data requests that it gets from regulators, courts and other government agencies.
Google said details about the censorship demands it got while in mainland China still aren’t being shared because the information is classified as a state secret.
The disclosure comes as more regulators and consumers watchdogs around the world are complaining that the company doesn’t take people’s privacy seriously enough.
Google maintains that its users’ privacy is one of the company’s highest priorities. The company also notes that, in one instance, it has gone to court to prevent the U.S. Justice Department from getting broad lists of people’s search requests.