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Google Publishes Government Censorship & Data Requests

Gordon Kelly

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Google Publishes Government Censorship & Data Requests

It looks like Google isn't prepared to be pushed around by any country anymore...

Following its high profile spat with China, the search giant has decided to publish exactly how many requests it gets per year from governments around the World to censor information or give up user data.

This controversial decision produces a fascinating picture with Brazil - perhaps surprisingly - topping the requests for user data with 3663 requests, just ahead of the United States with 3580. The UK comes a long way back in third with 1166 ahead of India with 1061 and France with 846. From here requests drop dramatically with Italy making 550 requests and Germany 458, Spain 324, Australia 155, Argentina 98 and Poland with 86 rounds off the top 10.

When it came to censorship, Brazil was a long way clear of everyone else with 291 requests followed by Germany (188), India (142), the US (123), South Korea (64) and the UK back in 6th with 59. Italy (57), Argentina (42), Spain (32), Australia (17) and Canada (16) complete the top ten. "What about China?" I hear you all cry. Sadly Google has omitted China's stats since the country regards them as state secrets.

So what can we draw from these results? That we should not be too quick to judge:

"The vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations or for the removal of child pornography, " said Google chief legal officer David Drummond. "We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship. Unless companies, governments and individuals do something, the internet we know is likely to become ever more restricted - taking choice and control away from users and putting more power in the hands of those who would limit access to information."

Do these results surprise you? How long before conspiracy theories emerge? And just how many requests do we think China made...?!

Links:

Google Government Requests Page

Google Blog Post

Hamish Campbell

April 21, 2010, 1:00 pm

I do love that my homeland (NZ) has had NONE of its removal requests complied with :)

Jones

April 21, 2010, 1:03 pm

Google may have "alterior motives" with things like this but its nice to see a big player recognising that if we are not careful the "freedom" of the internet could soon be swiped away without even a whimper from the public. I suppose the next 10 years or so will be huge in terms of shaping the future of the net.

Hamish Campbell

April 21, 2010, 1:14 pm

As you say we shouldn't be too quick to judge, worth reading the faq supplied especially the section


'Observations on removal requests' as one of it's points is





"For Brazil and India, government requests for content removal are high relative to other countries in part because of the popularity of our social networking website, orkut. The majority of the Brazilian and Indian requests for removal of content from orkut relate to alleged impersonation or defamation."





So these guys are getting boosted a bit where others wouldn't, there are a few other comments there worth noting.

J4cK1505

April 21, 2010, 1:25 pm

I think the freedom of the internet will soon become deteriorated. In a world where the internet is more and more central to business, economics and society in general, the government, the media etc will try to seize it with both hands in a plea for control. Without sounding too pessimistic doesn't anyone see this is a real threat?

Guye0a

April 21, 2010, 1:54 pm

"I think the freedom of the internet will soon become deteriorated. In a world where the internet is more and more central to business, economics and society in general, the government, the media etc will try to seize it with both hands in a plea for control. Without sounding too pessimistic doesn't anyone see this is a real threat?"





A little behind the curve on this one - Media have it sorted and the governments have been in a position to intercept data for the last 20 years.

David Hollinshead

April 21, 2010, 3:28 pm

Country Population Request % of Population


1 Brazil 192,811,000 3663 0.001900


2 United States 309,107,000 3580 0.001158


3 United Kingdom 62,041,708 1166 0.001879


4 India 1,179,829,000 1061 0.000090


5 France 65,447,374 846 0.001293





Not sure if my table will be legible but the UK does much worse if you take population into consideration.





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

Jones

April 21, 2010, 3:51 pm

@Guy - True, but then the government have been in a position of issuing stupid, pointless legislation for the past 20 years also and are only just getting round to it! The point is that many in power have been being the curve on this one but they are getting up to speed which is a concern.





The power of the Internet has been largely underestimated by most governments who have been slow, naive and obtuse in their attitudes towards managing information flow.





Wikipedia, to me, is a great example of how poor the Internet could become if the wrong people get the grubby mits around it. Rightly or wrongly, people believe just about anything written on that site and take everything for granted. Plenty of journalists, for example, have been caught out in recent years for taking a quick and easy research route and relying on Wikipedia. Now, if the wrong restrictions are put here and there and with site availability limited whos to stop any old rubbish being touted to us as truth? Of course to a degree this already happens but I suppose having recently read Nineteen Eighty-Four Im bound to be more paranoid about this sort of thing!!!

Hamish Campbell

April 21, 2010, 4:24 pm

Though maybe it should be 'population with regular access to the internet'

Jesper

April 21, 2010, 6:33 pm

I am not really sure what these numbers mean, but I think it misses the point if it wants to illustrate restrictions on the free internet.





I think the real issue for democracy as a whole is whether or not you can get these numbers from the relevant ministry. I am pretty sure (though not certain) that a simple letter to most departments of justice around the democratic world could get you this data - and likely on a more detailed level. If the government start keeping things like this a secret, then it is a real problem.

ffrankmccaffery

April 22, 2010, 6:54 pm

This is Google presumably aiming to bolster it's 'don't be evil' claptrap even further.

MrGodfrey

April 23, 2010, 2:27 pm

ffrank: Claptrap? Google are far from squeaky clean, but as long as they oppose censorship and idiocy like the Digital Economy Bill, then they have my support. "The enemy of my enemy" and all that...

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