Google got 38 user data requests from Canada in 6 months

Canadian government departments, entities and agencies asked Google to hand over data about 38 users in a six-month period last year, according to the internet giant.
A report from Google says it received 38 requests from Canadian government agencies in the last six months of 2010 for user data. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

Canadian government departments, entities and agencies asked Google to hand over data about 38 users in a six-month period last year, according to a report from the internet giant.

According to its latest transparency report, Google says the statistic primarily reflects requests for user data due to criminal investigations, though it's possible some requests did not involve criminal matters. Google received the requests for data between July and December 2010.

Google complied with 55 per cent of the requests, the report said.

The 38 requests ranked Canada low on a list of 26 countries that sought data on users. The United States was at the top of list with 4, 601 requests, followed by Brazil with 1,804 and India with 1, 699.

Google said it doesn't always know if the requests are related to criminal investigations and that included in the statistics may be instances where a government wants information to save the life of a person in danger.

The report doesn't say whether police services are included as government entities and it doesn't specify what levels of government the requests came from. Federal courts are included among the statistics, Google said.

In six-month blocks, Google reports on government inquiries for information about users and requests to remove content from its services. Content removals are sometimes related to allegations of defamation or allegations that the content violates laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography.

Seven requests for content removal came from Canada between July and December of last year. Three were related to internet searches, three to blog material and one to YouTube. The report said Google complied fully or partially with 86 per cent of the requests.

It noted that in 2009, a request was received from a Canadian politician who wanted a critical blog removed, but his request was declined because the material did not violate any of Google's policies.

"We hope this tool will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe," the report states.