Every so often, internet search giant Google releases a report on government censorship or other interference in the free use of the internet. That dictatorships like Red China and Iran censor the internet will comes as no surprise, but guess what country filed the second most requests with Google to take down content?
The United States of America, where police, prosecutors, courts and other government agencies submitted 187 requests to remove content from July through December of last year, more than doubling from 92 requests from January through June of 2011. Only Brazil filed more requests than government agencies in the U.S. -- and theirs were actually down from the previous report.
Google doesn’t always comply with these requests, but they wound up at least partially complying with 42 percent of the content removal requests originating in the United States.
As troubling as the “take down” requests are, what might concern Americans even more are the 6,321 requests United States government agencies filed with Google for user data during just the final six months of last year. That was far more than any other country, according to Google, and a 6 percent increase from the previous six months. Google complied with 93 percent of American requests for user data, encompassing more than 12,200 accounts.
What agency of the federal government needs the ability to snoop in your computer when all they have to do is get an appointed “judge” to issue an order to Google?
That the Obama administration, which gained a lot of publicity and financial support from the high tech industry, particularly Google, should preside over this great invasion of privacy is peculiar to say the least.
The report doesn’t cite the details that one might use to judge whether or not all of the requests comply with the Fourth Amendment and other American constitutional and legal protections. So perhaps all of the requests were legitimate.
However, in reading the report, it doesn’t sound like it. Many of the requests appear to be generated by police agencies to stifle criticism in much the same way the authorities in some tin pot dictatorship might be expected to act.
Unfortunately, this fits a pattern that runs throughout the Obama administration. From the efforts of the Labor Department to mandate that reporters use government computers and phones to cover the Department’s data releases, to the FCC’s attempts to regulate the internet -- even after a federal court found it didn’t have the authority -- to the growing use of drones for domestic spying, we thought the Obama administration was well on its way to becoming the largest invader of privacy in American history.
Now we learn we were wrong. It is not just the largest invader of privacy in American history -- it is among the largest in the world.