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Google's transparency report maps government requests

New tools attempt to show government censorship of internet services.

GOOGLE HAS RELEASED a transparency report which includes a map charting government inquiries it received for user information or requests to remove content.

The map shows that for the first half of 2010, the US government made 4,287 requests, Brazil made 2,435, India made 1,430, and the UK made 1,343.

In relation to Ireland, less than 10 items were removed by Google, but the report doesn’t indicate if any requests to do so were made by the government.

The information used in the report includes data collected for YouTube, the Google search engine, and other Google services. The report doesn’t indicate if Google agreed to the requests for user information or not.

The data is presented in six month blocks between July 2009 and June 2010, but Google says that the information is not 100% comprehensive, and it is “still learning the best way to collect and present this information”.

The report also includes a chart depicting traffic to Google services to demonstrate outages in connection either by physical disconnection or by government censorship.

It says that countries from which fewer than 10 requests were received are not shown because many one-off requests for content removal coincided with the company’s internal policy and may not accurately reflect censorship.

The report states that Google released the data tools out of a sense of responsibility regarding the information flow around their services, adding: “We hope this step towards greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.”

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