Google Launches New Site Detailing Government Data Requests


Google has unveiled a new site, dubbed simply "Government Requests," which displays a map of the world and shows the different countries that hit Google and YouTube with government requests to either remove content or provide user data and information. The map shows the number of requests between July and December of 2009.

"Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products," the site reads.

Google acknowledged that the numbers are "imperfect" and "may not provide a complete picture of government requests." The search engine giant said a single government request may ask for data on several different users or the removal of more than one URL. However, the map paints a pretty good picture of how many requests Google gets, and from where those requests originate.

For example, of the more than 10,000 requests for data or content removal, the most came from Brazil with 3,663 data requests, as well as 291 content removal requests. Google also reports that it either partially or fully complied with approximately 82.5 percent of these requests.

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The United States was second with 3,580 data requests and 123 removal requests. Google says it was compliant with about 80 percent of these requests. The United Kingdom and India were far behind Brazil and the U.S. with 1,166 and 1061 data requests, respectively. Meanwhile, Germany and India ranked behind Brazil in the content removal request category with 188 and 142 such requests, respectively.

Google has come under fire recently over privacy concerns related to its Google Buzz social networking service. A group of privacy regulators from 10 countries this week sent Google a letter urging the search giant to rethink how it addresses privacy with new product releases. The letter, of course, is somewhat ironic since it was authored by some of the same countries who have been pressuring Google for more user data.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Google said it hopes the new Government Requests site "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."