India ranks second globally in accessing private details of users

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India ranks second globally in accessing private details of users

According to the latest transparency report released by Google, India ranks second in the world for accessing private details of its citizens, only after the U.S. The Google report lists out requests it received from governments across the world to access details of users of its various services.

Google's data reveals India had made 2,319 requests involving 3,467 users in the first six months. The U.S. made 7,969 requests, while Brazil, which ranks third, made 1,566 requests during the same period. Worldwide 20,938 requests were made during the January-June period. The report says the information shared included complete Gmail account, chat logs, Orkut profile and search terms among others.

The requests for accessing user data from India had grown two-fold from 1,061 in July-December 2009 to 2,207 in July-December 2011, the report points out.

According to the report, India has been consistently sending requests to remove content which it brands as defamatory and against national security. The court orders, however, to take down content has remained almost stagnant over the years; though requests from the executive and police have grown.

In the first six months this year, there were 20 court orders and 64 requests from executive/police that resulted in 596 items being taken down from the web. During the January-June 2010 period, there were only eight court orders and 22 executive/police requests, resulting in 125 items being taken down. Read about Google's previous transparency report here.

"Though India is a large country with a significant number of internet users, this data is nonetheless an indicator of growing surveillance," Times of India quotes Pranesh Prakash, policy director at Centre for Internet and Society ( CIS), a Bangalore-based organization looking at issues of public accountability, internet freedom and openness, as saying.

"India lacks a general privacy law that helps set guidelines for such user requests, despite privacy being a constitutional right as part of the right to life," added Prakash.

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