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Google: "Government surveillance is on the rise"

Google has released its latest stats about government requests for data and content removal across its products, and the search giant said the authorities are showing no signs of backing off.

"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise," Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst with Google, wrote in a blog post.

The data covers January to June 2012 and breaks out government requests for information and government requests to have content removed from Google's network.

In the first six months of the year, Google received 20,938 government requests to hand over information about 34,614 accounts. That's up from 18,257 requests between July - December 2011, and an increase from the 12,539 requests that were made between July - December 2009, the first time period for which Google released these stats.

The United States had the highest number of user data requests at 7,696 regarding 16,281 accounts. Of that, Google complied fully or partially with 90 per cent. The number of requests is up slightly in the US from 6,321 in the second half of 2011, which resulted in a compliance rate of 93 per cent.

India came in at number two with 2,319 requests, followed by Brazil, France, and Germany, which all had about 1,500 requests, and the UK with 1,425.

Google said content removal requests were "flat" between 2009 and 2011, but have "spiked" this year - from 1,048 in the second half of 2011 to 1,791 in the first half of 2012.

In the US, most of the content removal requests focused on Google's Web Search and content on Google Groups.

The company received five requests to remove seven YouTube videos that criticised public officials, but Google declined. It received a court order to remove 1,754 posts from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family, and Google removed 1,664 of the posts.

There were also three court orders regarding 641 search results that linked to allegedly defamatory websites. Google removed 233 of the search results. The company also pulled 156 search results for trademark violations.

Google said its data is "only an isolated sliver" of the actual number of Internet-related requests that governments make "since for the most part we don't know what requests are made of other technology or telecommunications companies." The company praised firms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, and, which have also started publishing stats on government requests.