Google has published a tool that shows how often governments around the world have either asked it for data on users or asked that data be removed from Google search results. The Government Requests toolwas announced by Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond in ablog posting and shows an interactive map with the data from government requests from July to December 2009. Top of the list of user information requests is Brazil with 3,663 inquiries, reflecting the strength of Google’s Orkut social networking system in that country. The US comes second with 3,580 requests and the UK third with 1,166, the highest in Europe by a considerable margin. Brazil also tops the lists of information removal, with 291 requests. Germany comes second with 188 and India third with 142, edging out the US, which made 123 requests. The data is incomplete however. Certain requests have not been made public where as the data’s release would harm an ongoing investigation. Countries that made less than 30 user information inquiries or 10 data removal requests also do not show up on the map. Technology companies have traditionally handed over user details when asked by governments to help in criminal or civil cases but this is the first time a company has been so open about the extent to which it passes on user information. The announcement comes as global privacy officials prepare to meet with Google to discuss the concerns that Google is collecting too much data on users with its applications. (VNU Net).
Fouad GM is a social scientist, and researcher in Middle Eastern affairs. His writings have appeared on several websites, blogs, newspapers and publications by think tanks and research centres. Follow him on Twitter