This week Google rolled out its Government Requests tool that quantifies the number of government requests it receives from various countries around the world. The move was announced by David Drummond, Google's Chief Legal Officer on Tuesday on the official Google blog. In his post, Drummond stated:
So it's no surprise that Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services. Of course many of these requests are entirely legitimate, such as requests for the removal of child pornography. We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data. Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship.
The issue has been somewhat controversial in the wake of the expansion of government requests in recent years. The Google Tool maps the number of data requests and removal requests that Google received between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. Google indicates that it will be updating this data every six months.
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