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India ranks third in snooping through Google

Last updated on: June 30, 2011 08:28 IST

India ranks third in snooping through Google

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When looking for an information, internet users tend to search it on Google. And, when the government wants to snoop on people, it contacts the bosses of the US-based internet search giant.

Google, a favourite place to search information on internet, has also emerged as a favoured snooping ground for the government agencies and globally India ranks third in seeking user details from the global internet major.

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In 2010 alone, Indian government made more than 3,000 requests seeking user details from Google, while it also sought removal of various content, including those defamatory in nature, in about 100 cases during the year.

However, not all requests are entertained by Google, like it rejected last year requests from India for removal of a blog and some videos "that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states."

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Still, India was ranked third after the US and Brazil in terms of user detail requests from Google, while it was among the top-five countries for content removal requests.

While Google did not disclose the exact nature of user detail requests the governments seek from it, the law enforcement agencies generally seek information related to the communications made by various people through Google's email services and also their other activities on internet.

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Google reveals the data on government requests on a bi-annual basis since last year and it has now released the data for July-December 2010 period.

Google said, in what it describes as its six-monthly Transparency Report, that it received 1,699 requests for user details from Indian government and law enforcement agencies during July-December 2010.

Prior to this, Google had received 1,430 such requests from India in first six months of 2010.

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Google complied with 79 per cent of requests from India in the last six months of 2010.

In the entire 2010, Google received 3,129 requests from India, which was third highest after the US (8,888) and Brazil (4,239).

India was followed by the UK (2,505), France (2,038) and Germany (1,436) in terms of user detail requests received last year.

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Besides, Google received 67 content removal requests from India during July-December 2010, while another 30 such requests were made in the first half of the year.

Indian requests were fifth highest after Brazil, South Korea, Germany and Libya during July-December 2010.

Google said that it could comply, fully or partially, with only 22 per cent of total Indian requests. In its 67 requests in second half of 2010, India had sough removal of as many as 282 items, including Google search results, blogs and YouTube videos.

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During January-June 2010, India's 30 requests sought removal of a total 125 items. Google had complied with 53 per cent of Indian content removal requests in that period.

Google said that it regularly receives requests from government agencies and federal courts around the world to remove content from our services and hand over user data.

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"Some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography," it added.

Noting that it was not always possible for it to comply with the requests, Google said that from India it "received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states."

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"We did not comply with these requests," the company said, without specifying the reasons ands details of the request.

Google said that the maximum number of Indian content removal requests were related to defamation, followed by privacy and security, pornography, national security, government criticism, hate speech and impersonation.

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India sought removal of 133 items, including 100 YouTube videos, during July-December 2010 for defamation, while 11 items (including 10 videos and one blog) were requested to be removed for government criticism.

A total of 14 Indian requests for content removal in 2010 were made through court orders, while other requests were made by police and other law enforcement agencies.


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