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Google: Government surveillance inquiries 'spiking'

So much for anonymity. Google’s latest twice-yearly Transparency Report reveals that government takedown and monitoring requests are skyrocketing.

The report, which focuses on the first half of 2012, says that Google received a whopping 20,938 inquiries from governments around the world, regarding 34,614 accounts. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not that many, but in terms of surveillance, it’s mindboggling. Heck, only three years ago, the number was just 12,539 inquiries. Keep in mind that these requests only apply to Google as well – this isn’t even accounting for Microsoft, Apple, Dropbox, or the world’s myriad ISPs.

The number of inquiries have been on the rise for years now, but sometime around last year, something funny happened: the previously steady rise in government monitoring jumped from adding 1,000 inquiries a year to adding 3,000 a year.  Takedown ‘requests’ spiked, too.

We try to stay optimistic, but there’s really not much good news to go around. Censorship takedown requests look relatively small at first glance, with only 1,791 requests received. Unfortunately, it turns out that those requests applied to around 17,746 pieces of content, and we’re willing to bet that just about every bit of that content has disappeared since then.

We’re sure that a certain of amount of that was justifiable, but you’ve got to wonder how much legitimate free speech got swept away in the process. We’d also love to hear which governments were responsible for most of the takedowns. Back in June, when Google’s previous Transparency Report was released, they noted that it was ‘troubling’ that many of the requests were coming from “Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”

Source: Google | Via Huffington Post

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