India, despite having only 10% of its citizens as Internet users, ranked the third globally in seeking identification details of Google users in the second half of last year, according to Google’s transparency report for the period.
It made 1,699 such requests to Google in the second half of 2010, a rise of more than 60% compared to the same period a year ago.
It also ranked second in asking Google to remove posts from its blogging-platform. India also had distinction of having most (78%) of its requests for content removal dismissed by Google.
“We 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. We did not comply with these requests,” Google said. “The number of content removal requests we received increased by 123% compared to the previous reporting period,” it added.
Back to individual user details: despite having only around 5% of the total Internet population of the World, India’s requests amounted to around 12.1% of the total 14,000 or so requests received by Google in the second half of 2010. [SEE GRAPHS AT BOTTOM]
The highest number of requests were made by the US Government, which wanted details of 4,601 Google users over the six month period, followed by Brazil with 1804 requests.
Interestingly, Pakistani and Chinaese Governments did not figure among those who tried to aggressively track down users of Google from the company.
Google complied with 89% of the requests by the Government to reveal the identity details of its users in India. Among the details that Google can reveal are the IP address of the user — which can easily lead to the exact pin-pointing of the users location — down to his home or office.
Google can also reveal details such as the name and address, search history and other activities of the user on its group websites — such as Blogger.com, Orkut.com etc..
“We review each request to make sure that it complies with both the spirit and the letter of the law, and we may refuse to produce information or try to narrow the request in some cases,” Google said.
Interestingly, India did not seem to make big demands of Google as far as removing content from its network was concerned. It was ranked only sixth in terms of the number of pieces of content that it sought to be removed from Google.
UK led in this department, requesting that whopping 93,518 pieces of content be removed. Google removes content from its blogging services (Blogger.com) as well as from its social networking, search, mailing list and other services.
UK was followed by South Korea, which has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the World and Brazil. The US was at fifth plalce with 1,421 content to requested to be removed. India followed with 282 pieces of content.
However, a deeper analysis of the number reveals that unlike in the other countries, in India, it is the government which is making the request by itself. In other countries, such removal orders tend to come from the Courts.
For example, taking into account the requests for removing blogs from its site Blogger.com, Brazil led the tally, followed closely by India. Brazil made 21 such requests (often covering more than one entry or piece of content,) while the US saw 10 such blog removal orders, followed by France with 5 orders. India made 19 such requests.
Out of the seven top ‘blog removing countries’ on Blogger.com, not even a single one of them saw such a request being made by a government agency. Instead, such orders were always passed by the Courts, often as a result of a defamation hearing. In India’s case, 15 of its 19 blog removal orders did not have Court-backing and was passed by Government officials.
Not surprisingly, India was the worst performer among the big ‘content removal’ governments during the period. While countries such as South Korea, Argentina, Spain, Turkey and Russia were able to persuade Google to remove all the controversial content, in India, only 22% of the requested content were removed by Google.
The proportion — 22% — is the lowest figure of compliance, indicating that Google felt that most of the 281 content removal requests made by the Government did not hold water.
This is unlike in case of user details. In case of revealing user details, Google co-operated with 89% of Indian government’s requests, while it complied with only 12% of such requests from the Polish Government and 40% from Argentina and 55% from Canada.