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Google Launches Tool That Reveals Government Requests

  • Ira Mellman

Google Launches Tool That Reveals Government Requests

Google Launches Tool That Reveals Government Requests

Finding out which countries are trying to censor what their citizens can find on the Internet is now as easy as surfing to a website.

Google Vice President Nicole Wong said that the new tool shows requests Google has received from governments around the world to remove content from the company’s search results.

Wong said the company has created a map that can toggle back and forth between two views. One view shows the number of government requests Google has received to remove content from its services; the second shows the number of requests for user information in the various countries.

Google says the top five countries requesting removals are Brazil, Germany, India, the United States and South Korea. When it comes to data requests the top country is Brazil, followed closely by the United States, the United Kingdom, India and France.

China is not listed among the countries on the Google list. Wong says on the the site's map of China, there is actually a notice that Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so Google cannot legally disclose that information at this time.

In fact, Google removed its China search this January in the face of mounting censorship in the country.

Wong said the the type of material countries want removed varies from country to country. For instance, German laws deem Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denial material illegal, so requests from Germany often involve that kind of material.

"What I’m hoping is that a lot of academics, researchers, policymakers around the world look at this data and are able to start a conversation," she said. "I think that the internet is a global platform, it’s something that we all need to focus on in terms of how do we continue to have a free flow of information around the world while respecting the laws of local jurisdictions. And that’s a very complex conversation."

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