Google Details Censorship, Data Demands

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Google has unveiled a Transparency Report, which maps how many requests for data governments across the globe have made.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
Between January and June this year, the U.S. government made 4,287 requests for data on the search engine's users. In the same time frame, the U.K. government made 1,343 requests.

The report also details how many times content was removed from Google at the request of a government. In the first six month of 2010, 48 pieces of content were removed from Google's services and website following requests from U.K. authorities.

The report also includes traffic graphs that illustrate any outages in traffic to Google's services across the globe, whether its government's blocking access to these services, or simply net connection issues.

"We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests," Google said.

David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said the report allowed web users to see where governments are demanding the removal of content and where Google services are being blocked.

"We believe that this kind of transparency can be a deterrent to censorship," he said in a blog.

"Free expression is one of our core values. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual."

The number of requests has risen since last year. Between July 1 and December 31, Google received 1,116 requests for user data from U.K. authorities and 3,580 from US agencies. Overall, Google and the Google-owned YouTube received more than 10,000 requests for user data from government agencies in the six months ending December 31, 2009.

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    This story, "Google Details Censorship, Data Demands" was originally published by PC Advisor (UK).

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