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Friday, April 23, 2010

Google reveals UK's censorship and snooping demands

Google is making search censorship requests from governments public, and the UK is one of the most demanding out there.
By Nicole Kobie, 21 Apr 2010 at 11:03

The UK is one of the most demanding countries when it comes to censoring Google search results and asking for data, the web giant has revealed.

Google has started to publish the number of requests it receives from countries, noting the number of data requests and removal requests they make - and approve.

"We already try to be as transparent as legally possible with respect to requests. Whenever we can, we notify users about requests that may affect them personally," explained Google's chief legal officer David Drummond, in a blog post.

"If we remove content in search results, we display a message to users," he added. "The numbers we are sharing today take this transparency a step further and reflect the total number of requests we have received broken down by jurisdiction."
UK demands

According to the mapped data, which is from the second half of last year, the UK made 1,116 data requests from the web giant, ranking it third after Brazil and the US.
The UK also had 59 requests to remove access to bits from Google's empire, ranking it sixth, with three-quarters approved by the web giant.

The majority, some 43 requests, were against YouTube, while court orders were taken out to take down eight web searches, one group and one image search.

Brazil topped both rankings, with 3,663 data requests and 291 removal requests. The US was second for data requests with 3,580 and fourth for removal requests with 123, including 63 on YouTube. (See below for the rankings.)

More detail?

Google has so far just released the basic numbers, and hasn't revealed topics the requests pertained to, but said it would "fine-tune the types of data we display".

Drummond said that while Google "cannot yet provide more detail about our compliance with user data requests in a useful way, we intend to do so in the future."

The tool also doesn't include every country around the world, missing out Africa and much of the Middle East, as well as China - despite Google's ongoing spat with the country.

"Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time," Google noted, to explain why Chinese stats weren't included.

Top countries for removal requests

Brazil - 291
Germany - 188
India - 142
US - 123
South Korea - 64
UK - 59
Italy - 57
Argentina - 42
Spain - 42
Australia - 17
Canada - 16

(The rest listed had fewer than 10 requests.)

Top countries for data requests

Brazil - 3,663
US - 3,580
UK - 1,166
India - 1,061
France - 846
Italy - 550
Germany - 458
Spain - 324
Australia - 155
Argentina - 98

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