Which government monitors and censors the most? Google tells all.

Google has been in the news lately for many privacy/censorship/etc. issues. I supposed Google HQ has got tired of the Google-bashing when it comes to ‘net neutrality, so is now Google is fighting back. Today Google has released a new “Government Requests tool” to give users insight on which governments have made the most requests to Google to either remove content, or to provide information on a user:

(NOTE: Data on request from China is not given because the Chinese government considers the data to be “state secrets” and therefore Google cannot release the information.

Notably, Brazil, USA, UK, and India have the four highest data requests (i.e. requests for information) and Brazil, Germany, India, USA have the four highest removal requests (i.e. requests to remove content).

So, what exactly does Google’s new toy show us? Since this is a fairly politically charged topic, be sure to read the FAQs before jumping to any conclusions:

(Click on image to view FAQs in full size.)

The most notable aspects of the FAQs are the clarifications that the tool is based off the number of requests made to Google from July 1, 2009 – December 31, 2009 and that most requests were in relational to “criminal matters”.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic below; speak your mind but remember to play nice when posting a comment!

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17 comments

  1. Lantz

    Yet, after all this I am not convinced about googles honesty. I work private law enforcement and have been hired by several branches of the government in the past and from some recent experiences the majority of information and profiles on people I was hired to find, track, watch, or catch was given freely to the government by google. The amount of info in these files….well, let’s just say I use google anything, for absolutely nothing. In fact if it’s connected to google it is blocked on the computer systems both at home and the 7 ps3 linked system I use for this work.

  2. MikeR

    Crikey. I go off on holiday and in the meantime dot.tech gets stuffed full with even more info, advice and — as here — intelligent comment.

    Great article, Ashraf, and I admired especially the wryness of its opening line.
    Pretty sure the German Government’s Consumer Affairs department will also look with quizzical gaze at anything said by Google at the moment . . .

    ;-)

     

  3. IT3

    @Robert: Not a big fan of free speech are you?  It sounds like you would like to censor FoxNews yourself, leaving no alternative to the rest of the government approved leftist media in the US.
    Yes, closer to China sounds like your preference after all…

  4. Mr.Dave

    @Giovanni: If I was the CIA, the first place I would look are all the “anonymous surfing” sites and tools.  They complete the connection between the site you’re surfing and your internet address, otherwise you couldn’t be surfing the site.  By their nature, they would have a much higher percentage of risky traffic than almost any other place on the web.  What a goldmine!  I wouldn’t be surprised to find the CIA or its equivalent in other countries is who runs many of these sites.  Is there something I’m missing here?
    …and I use Reply.  Thanks for the instructions, Adrian!  I don’t see your name above, so “Reply” doesn’t help link this back to you :-(
     
     
     
     

  5. Giovanni

    Interesting article but frankly speaking I think that it doesn’t reveal the plain  truth about online censorship.

    USA, UK and INDIA  have the highest data  and removal requests   simply because they are the 3 countries, along with China, with the maximum number of sites and online users in the world.

    But, taking into account these data,  you can’t jump to any ridiculous conclusion , as somebody did here,   according to which USA is not a democratic country or it’s less free than CUBA or Islamic Countries in the Middle East where INTERNET doesn’t exist or it’s under the total Government control.

    Come on, folks, be serious!!

    Generally speaking I think that the strenght of any GOVERNMENT throughout the world is based on the IGNORANCE of people most of whom are totally unaware of this kind of issue.

    In particular, if the masses  around the world may have any chance to know that it’s possible to surf the net withouth leaving any trace, well this could actually make more difficult for any Government monitor the online activity of its citizens.

    For instance, if you use a free tool called “ULTRASURF”, you can not only surf the NET anonimously but  also bypass any bloody FILTER put by countries such as China where censorship is the rule and not the exception:

    http://www.ultrareach.net/download_en.htm

    Provare per credere (= The Proof of The Pudding Is in the Eating)…LOL!

    That said, if I were in your shoes, I’d be much more worried for this:

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/december2006/061206seedmoney.htm
    http://911review.org/Alex/reference/google_and_CIA.html
    http://www.infowars.net/articles/march2008/310308Google.htm

    Do you agree with me , dudes??

    Cheers from Italy!

  6. Jon

    @Kerry: Agreed; just my opinion
    @Paul: just wanted to point out that those dates were through 31 December <grin>
    At the core of the freedoms and rights we enjoy in the United States are free speech and freedom of regligion (an extension of free speech).  Free speech is one the most basic Freedoms we have.
    As repugnant as it is to me every American has the freedom to desecrate our countries flag; this is a part of our freedom of speech.  The same flag that is stained with the blood of thousands that made the ultimate sacrifice defending these very rights and freedoms.  The flag is also saturated with their honor and valor while other that have displayed this same honor and valor walk around today mangled, deformed, and with missing limbs and organs so that we could continue to enjoy these freedoms.  So make no mistake how I feel about the flag that I also gave part of my life to defend, but still it is our right to desecrate it.  It is a part of our freedom of speech.  I just use this as an example of our freedom of speech.
    Just yesterday I viewed a clip of a Chris Matthews programs were he had a bunch of journalists on that cover our nations capitol and the President.  They were all ranting and raving about things that the commentators of one news network were saying about President Obama.  And how they shouldn’t be allowed to say such things.  The thing that struck me about this is here were members of the press touting the suspression of freedom of speech; freedom of speech is the foundation of their trade and here they were saying that others in their profession should be silenced.  Why is it that they are so scared of opposing views?  I’m more than scared of their opposing views, but I’ve never suggested that they should be silenced.
    I still love to see clips of Will Rogers and how he used to bash politicians of his day, but that was then and this is now.
    I guess I could have simply written one sentence in reponse to todays article about which governments do the most censorship and request the most user data.  It would seem that we don’t have freedom of speech as far as certain members of our government are concerned.  So much for the expression and idea of, “of the people, by the people, for the people.
    Sorry Ashraf for making this so political, but I did get to use the reply button.

  7. Kerry

    Great Article!    Thanks Ashraf
    I believe this is no difference then phone tapping or easedropping  and should be illegal.   Its an invasion of privacy.  I know were on public internet but its no different then making a phone call on your private phone that is bugged or tapped.  Just my opinion!

  8. Paul

    @Robert: Since you did not really play that nice in your post as Ashraf requested,   I thought I would point out that while you are poking fun at the “brain dead Fox viewers”  and the “bushleague”   you failed to notice or purposely ignored the fact that  according to the dates 6/1/09 -12/1/09 this did not happen on the Bush-league’s watch, and you may have just given the brain dead viewers more reason to believe that the current Administration may be doing a whole lot of censoring of their own.   Then again if most of the requests were limited to investigations into criminal matters as was stated, then maybe they are just trying to make life better for all of us.

  9. RobCr

    I have just finished researching why Brazil is way ahead of the other countries.

    For decades, the public, falsely, thought Ricky Martin was from Brazil.
    That did not trigger the block requests.
    However during that period millions of people, falsely, alleged that he was gay.
    That was the cause of all the block requests.

  10. Sue D. Nymme

    There’s not a lot of information there, so it’s hard to judge how useful, or scary (or not) this is.
    Obviously, censorship is a concern.  But who knows how many of these requests are to protect citizens (for example, court-ordered requests to remove sites that are engaging in libel or impostering)?

  11. Nebulus

    Unfortunately Google didn’t suddenly have a change of heart. This is just a retaliation to the letter sent to Google by the officials from 10 countries,  where they were complaining about Google’s privacy policies.

  12. Robert

    I guess everyone is too scared to comment…
    Thank you bushleague for all the wonderful things you’ve done to a once great country…..
     
    Nice to see the US near the top.
    go USA! GO USA!            try a little bit harder
    With a little effort you should be able to catch up to red china.
     
    Ask all those braindead Fox viewers how they like them apples.  lol

  13. RobCr

    Victoria is the ‘Nanny’ state, regarding traffic restrictions, enforcement, etc.
    Australia is attempting to become the ‘Nanny’ Country, with proposed Internet censorship.
    Google has approached the US Government to complain about this.
    Good on them.