Google Reports Increasing Government Watch on Online Content

December 14, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. transparency (n.) [trans-pair-uh n-see, -par-] – [in business] the act of being clear and honest about an organization’s business activities
ExampleThe voters ask the government to practice transparency on how taxes are spent.

2. spike (n.) [spahyk] – a sudden increase
Example: The spike in fuel prices may be the reason for the decrease in car sales this year.

3. hand over (v. phrase) [hand-oh-ver] – to give or submit
Example: The policeman asked the drunk driver to hand over his license.

4. access (v.) [ak-ses] – to have permission or ability to use, enter or get something
Example: The lady forgot her password, so she couldn’t access her email account.

5. comply (v.) [kuh m-plahy] – to follow or obey a rule or order
Example: Companies must comply with government laws.

Read the text below.

Google’s most recent transparency report, covering January to June of 2012, reveals a spike in the number of requests from governments all over the world to remove Internet content or to hand over user data.

Dorothy Chou, Google’s Senior Policy Analyst, says since the biannual (twice-a-year) transparency report was started in 2009, there has been a steady increase in government requests for access to user data and for removal of content found on Google’s many services.

The first Google transparency report in 2009 showed only 1,062 government requests for content removal and 12,539 government requests for user data.

In the sixth and latest transparency report this year, Google received 1,791 requests from government organizations to remove 17,746 pieces of content from Google services. Furthermore, governments sent 20,938 requests, asking Google to hand over information from 34,614 Google accounts

In the company’s official blog, Google claims that in the United States, Google complies with less than 50% of the U.S. government’s requests for content removal. However, when the U.S. government requests for access to user data, Google complies about 90% of the time.

But regular Internet users should not worry about whether the government is accessing their personal online information, says Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security. He said the government is not interested in people’s everyday online activities, but it has the authority to look at e-mails or user content of people who are connected to a crime or who are part of an investigation.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of Google’s practice of releasing a transparency report twice a year? Please explain your answer.
·         How does practicing transparency help a company or business?

Discussion B

·         Should the government be able to control or access people’s information on the Internet? Why or why not?
·         What are the positive and negative effects of having some government influence or control on the Internet?


December 14, 2012