Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
Google is, for good or ill when it comes to your personal information, a strong advocate for public access to as much data as possible. Google is acting on that today by launching a new tool that shows the number content removal and data requests by world governments.
The data is quite exhaustive. For the United States as an example, Google has received 3580 requests for data, and 123 removal requests from the second half of last year. Of the requests for removal, some 80.5% were complied with.
Google is taking the exposure of governments and their actions to the next level. Want to make a campaign to hide information that is contrary to your government? You can do so. Google will say no, and then show the world that you were asking. Great for people, tough on governments.
Google agrees, saying “we believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship.” Not to quote Obama, but Google seems to also think that “a little sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
The company does make it plain that some content removal requests are good, and should be treated as such. The “vast majority” of data requests are for criminal investigations, and are fair. Even more, Google welcomes requests to remove child pornography and the like by governments or anyone else.
But past that, Google is taking another firm swipe at a closed world. From the top to the bottom Google is changing the way things work, and will work in times to come. How many requests does your government have?
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