Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Google reveals government data requests

The BBC has reported on new details released by Google for the first time that show how often countries around the world have asked the company to hand over user data or to censor information. Brazil comes at the top of the list with 3,663 data requests, while the US made 3,580 and the UK came a distant third with 1,166.

As the issues with Chinese censorship continue to rumble on, Google seems to have revealed this information in the hope of providing greater transparency and to reveal the different pressures that come to bear on the search engine. However, Google said it cannot provide statistics on requests from China as these are regarded as state secrets and the company has agreed to keep this private.

Brazil is also reported to have made the highest number of requests to Google to remove content, with 291 requests between July and December 2009. In second place was Germany with 188, India with 142 and the US with 123 requests. Google's legal office has said that the large majority of these requests were valid and the information was needed for legitimate criminal investigations or for the removal of child pornography.

However, the information published by Google doesn't break out the data for the number of times the company complied or refused these government requests for information on individuals. The report says that Google is working to perfect the information being made available and that "it will get better". The next release will be in six months' time.

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