Search giant Google has identified a growing trend for government web surveillance, with requests for user data increasing steadily in recent years.
The company has released its latest Transparency Report, which shows that in the first half of 2012 it received 20,938 requests from government bodies to hand over user information.
This is an increase on the 18,257 requests received in the second half of 2011 and represents a sixth consecutive half-yearly rise.
In the second half of 2009 when Google began collating this data, there were just 12, 539 requests.
The United States government made the most requests during this last reporting period at 7,969. This was followed by India with 2,319 requests and Brazil with 1,566. The UK government made 1,425 requests for user data.
In an official blog post, Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst at Google, said: "This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise."
There was also an increase in requests to remove content from Google services, from 1,048 in the second half of last year to 1,791 in the first half of 2012.
Defamation was the most common reason given, followed by privacy and security.