Google has released a Transparency Report tool that is designed to show censorship levels around the world in a move widely seen as a continuation of its recent fight against censorship with transparency which began earlier this year when the search engine released information that showed how often various countries requested for user data or asked it to censor certain information.
The tool consists of a map that allow users to click on individual countries in order to show how many removal requests were either fully or partially complied with, in addition to which Google services were affected. For example, the tool revealed that 7 court orders were made in the United States to remove YouTube content between July and December 2009. A traffic graph further highlights Google’s worldwide services and traffic outages caused by either government interference or faulty cables.
Furthermore, the report shows that in the first 6 months of 2010, the American government asked for user information from Google a total of 4,287 times while the UK governments made over 1,000 similar requests. However, data on information requests from China is conspicuously absent from the current matter. The reason for this, according to Google, is because “Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets so we cannot disclose that information at this time”.
How effective can Google’s Transparency Report tool become in promoting freedom of information and expression? Do you agree with Civil Liberty groups that say the organisation needs to go one step further by providing even more details about user information requests?