Apr 20, 2010

Google Fighting “The Man”

I stumbled across this today, and just had to share it with you. Google, the Internet giant whose motto is, “Don’t be evil” is fighting the good fight against “the man” by posting to the public the number of requests Google and Youtube receives from Government agencies to remove content from their services, or to provide information about users. They are doing this with their new Government Requests Tool. The tool according to Wired, “…shows the public how often individual governments around the world have asked for user information, and how often they’ve asked Google to remove content from their sites or search index, for reasons other than copyright violation.”

David Drummond, head honcho of Corporate Development and CLO for Google announced the tool in a blog post earlier today. From Drummond’s article":

We are today launching a new Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world. For this launch, we are using data from July-December, 2009, and we plan to update the data in 6-month increments. Read this post to learn more about our principles surrounding free expression and controversial content on the web.

We already try to be as transparent as legally possible with respect to requests. Whenever we can, we notify users about requests that may affect them personally. If we remove content in search results, we display a message to users. The numbers we are sharing today take this transparency a step further and reflect the total number of requests we have received broken down by jurisdiction. We are also sharing the number of these content removal requests that we do not comply with, and while we cannot yet provide more detail about our compliance with user data requests in a useful way, we intend to do so in the future.

As part of our commitment to the
Global Network Initiative, we have already agreed to principles and practices that govern privacy and free expression. In the spirit of these principles, we hope this tool will shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe. We also hope that this is just the first step toward increased transparency about these actions across the technology and communications industries.

Here is a screen shot from their tool:

google government requests tool
According to the screenshot, The United States is second for the most data requests with 3,580 right behind Brazil. Brazil is also the number one for removal requests with 291. These numbers are the numbers received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.  Sounds like, with the exception of the Brazilian wax, their really is no good reason to go to Brazil. Their government is t3h $ux!.

What do you think about this? Do you think this move by Google will do any good in the fight against Government censorship? I want to know how you feel in the comments.

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