Google Inc. released its sixth bi-annual transparency report on Nov. 13. In this three-part report, Google revealed information about its traffic worldwide, discussed government and corporate requests to remove data and lastly stated government and corporate requests for Google to disclose data.
These transparency reports were created to show people what kind of information is being censored online. The first part of the transparency reports shows data regarding the traffic Google receives during the day. For the United States, most people use Google at around 8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.The traffic reports also determine what countries are blocking some or all of Google’s services.
For example, they show how China went from all Google services accessible on April 11, 2012 to all services inaccessible on Nov. 9, 2012. This essentially means that in April you could search anything and it would not be censored, but by Nov. Google’s services were not available.
Google measures its data by taking the total worldwide incoming traffic and then dividing it by the incoming traffic for a specific geographical region. Google uses this data to make graphs showing the amount of use it receives in a certain time period; this can also be divided up by region. The y-axis on the graphs serve as a way to relate two different graphs to each other.
The transparency report also shows the number of removal requests that Google receives from governments or copyright owners. In 2012, Google received 209 requests from the US government to remove specific URLs online. These requests were all completed by court orders and the major reason behind these was defamation of the government.
Google also receives requests to remove URLs from copyright infringement companies. In the past month, 8,600,766 URLs have been requested to be removed because they allegedly infringe copyrights. Degban, a company that battles online piracy, has made over eight million requests for removal, the most out of any other company.
The final part of the transparency report releases the amount of requests by governments for user data. This data is mainly used for law enforcement reasons.
The amount of requests for data in order to assist in criminal investigations has consistently increased over the past few years. The US government has made over seven thousand requests for user data from January to June of 2012 and Google complied with 90 percent of these requests.
Google encourages its users to view these transparency reports in order to better understand how the website’s information is being used and by whom. All of the information regarding Google transparency can be seen on the website http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/.