Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Google To Provide Details On Government Censorship Requests

Google today has announced details of a new tool that will outline worldwide government request to remove content from their servers.

The new Government Requests tool will provide everyone with information about the requests for user data or content removal Google has received from various government agencies around the world. As of today's launch Google is only providing data from July-December, 2009, with plans to update the data in 6-month increments.

In his post David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, says "Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services. Of course many of these requests are entirely legitimate, such as requests for the removal of child pornography. We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data. Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship."

The map shows the number of requests that Google has received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009, with certain limitations.

Google says these numbers are imperfect and may not provide a complete picture of the overall total number of government requests. For example, the US has a total of 3580 data requests and 123 removal requests. Each request may represent more the removal of more than one URL or for the disclosure of information for multiple users. Meaning these numbers may actually be higher than estimated.

See the FAQ for more information.

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