Three years ago a small team at Google decided to start releasing data on the requests they receive from governments to share or remove data from the Internet. At the time, savvy Internet users might have understood that governments do make these requests, but having any sense of the scale of the problem -- let alone whether it was getting better or worse -- fell beyond what was knowable from public information.
Since that time, Google has been releasing updates to its Transparency Report twice a year, and a clear trend has emerged. "Government surveillance," Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou writes, "is on the rise." The chart after the jump tracks the changes in government requests for user data since Google began its report.
In addition to that gradual uptick, Google noticed a more sudden leap in the number of requests worldwide to remove content altogether -- this after two years of relative stability.