The Government Requests tool shows the public how often each government asks Google for private data on users, or asks Google to remove websites from its search index for reasons other than copyright infringement. It also reveals what percentage of those requests Google has fulfilled.
Google VP David Drummond wrote in a blog post that Google hoped the tool would lead to greater transparency on government censorship and data requests.
“Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services… We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data,” Drummond wrote. “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 Government Requests Tool breaks down data from the last half of last year, between July 2009 and December 2009. But Google plans to update this data regularly.
Google admits that the information is not as accurate or comprehensive as the company would like it to be, but it plans to improve the detail and transparency of the program over time.
The app does not reveal data from China, because Google said China has classified the information as state secret.
Brazil racked up the most requests. The U.S. government made the fourth most requests of any nation.