With 2,691 user data requests from 4,161 users accounts, India ranks second among countries that requested for user data from Google between January – June 2013, the company has revealed in its Transparency Report. Google complied with 64% of these requests. However, the report does not mention the nature of these requests. It is worth noting that the number of data requests made by the Indian government has also been consistently increasing over the years. However, Google’s compliance rate when it comes to requests from India, has been falling over the years.
U.S.A tops the list of countries that requested for user data from Google for the same period with 10,918 requests. Germany and France are in third and the fourth place with 2,311 and 2,011 requests respectively. The U.S government had prohibited Google from disclosing requests made based on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act so the report featured a blacked out image of the data requested by the U.S.
According to the report, the number of user data requests has more than doubled in the last three years with 25,879 requests made between January – June 2013 while only 12,539 requests made were between July – December 2009.
Timeline of data requests made by India:
July – December 2009: Interestingly, with 1,061 user data requests, India did not feature in the top 10 countries that requested for user data from Google. The company compiled with 77.5% of the requests. However, with 142 data removal requests, India was third on the list of countries that had requested for data removal from Google during the same period.
July – December 2010: Google received 1699 requests for disclosure of user data from the Indian government, and it complied with as much as 79% of the requests. Google had also received 67 requests for removal of 282 items of content during the same period.
July – December 2011: Google received 2207 requests for disclosure of user data from the Indian government, and it complied with as much as 66% of the requests. During the same period, the company had also received 101 requests for removal of 255 items of content
July – December 2012: Google received 2,431 requests for disclosure of user data from 4106 accounts, from the Indian government. It complied with as many as 66% of the requests. During the same period, the company had received 160 content removal requests from the Indian government to remove 2,942 items
In August 2012, the Indian government had also admitted to have blocked 245 web pages with inflammatory and hateful content, following the exodus of a large number of people belonging to the North Eastern ethnic community from cities like Bangalore and Pune, among others.
January – June 2013: Google received 2,691 requests for disclosure of user data from the Indian government. It complied with as many as 64% of the requests.
In April 2013, the Indian government began rolling out the Central Monitoring System (CMS) which is essentially India’s version of PRISM enabling government agencies to monitor and analyse all telecommunications and internet communications including telephone calls, email, text messages, MMS, fax communications on landlines, CDMA, video calls, GSM and 3G networks in the country.
Interestingly, Milind Deora, India’s Minister of State for IT had called the Central Monitoring System (CMS), a good tool that will ensure and protect citizen’s privacy.
In June 2013, international human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW, New York) had in fact called out to the Indian Government to enact clear laws regarding surveillance and protection of privacy of its citizens since there is none present in the country at the moment.