Australian government requests for Google user info up 29% in 2013

The Australian government increased its use of data requests to source information on Google by 29 per cent from 2012 to 2013, the company's latest Transparency Report has shown, while figures indicated that Australian authorities are proving more effective than most governments at getting most of the information they request.

Australian government authorities lodged some 780 user data requests during the second half of 2013, up 21 per cent over the first half of the year and contributing to a total annual count that was nearly a third higher than in 2012.

Those requests pertained to 944 different users in the second half, meaning that 1,751 Australian users were investigated during 2013 – a 13 per cent increase over 2012.

Significantly, the statistics suggested that Australian authorities were getting better at specifying the information they required from Google: some 70 per cent of requests were partially or completely fulfilled in the second half of 2013, up from 64 per cent in the first half of 2012.

Still, these levels were down from the 81 per cent compliance rate in the second half of 2010, suggesting that Google is becoming stricter overall about how much information it gives to authorities.

Indeed, Google fully or partially complied with 64 per cent of requests in the second half, down from 66 per cent in the same period a year earlier. That was down substantially from Google's compliance with 76 per cent of requests in the second half of 2010, when its transparency figures began.

Australian compliance rates remained higher than the global average, with Australia's government proved far more effective at getting data from Google in the second half than the likes of Brazil (49 per cent), the Czech Republic (39 per cent), Germany (40 per cent), Greece (15 per cent), Hong Kong (37 per cent), India (66 per cent), Italy (42 per cent), Japan (60 per cent), New Zealand (57 per cent), Poland (23 per cent), Russia (3 per cent), Singapore (68 per cent), Taiwan (61 per cent), and UK (69 per cent).

Only the United States (83 per cent), Norway (73 per cent), Netherlands (75 per cent), Malta (83 per cent), Finland (92 per cent), and Belgium (73 per cent) were more effective at getting the information they wanted from Google.

On a global scale, the online giant handled 53,356 requests for data during 2013, the figures show, with second-half rates up 6 percent over the first half and the annual rate up 26 per cent over 2012.

The requests also pertained to a growing number of users, with 68,249 users investigated during 2012 and 85,148 during 2013 – representing a growth rate of 25 per cent over 2012.

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