Google Makes Government Censorship Requests Public Knowledge

Google Makes Government Censorship Requests Public Knowledge

Net neutrality. Censorship. Freedom of speech. Global search. All of these items are becoming more and more visible in an interconnected world, and we suspect that these issues will become even more important as the Internet spreads. Recently, Google brought some of these matters into the mainstream light by taking on China in a way that no search engine ever had: Google refuses to continue censoring results, and redirected searches to their Hong Kong portal in order to achieve their goal while maintaining within China.

This week, Google has opened another can of worms. The new Government Requests Tool is quite the eye-opener, giving mere citizens the ability to see how many times a given government has requested information and how often they have asked the company to remove content from their sites or search index for reasons outside of copyright violations. The tool shows that America had just over 3500 total requests for information during the July-to-December 2009 period, which includes subpoenas and search warrants from state, local and federal law enforcement officials. Brazil topped even the U.S. in total number of requests.



Google is hoping that this will make governments think twice before asking for censorship. If citizens openly know just how hard their government is trying to have the Web censored, there's more chance that revolts will break out and anti-censorship parties will have grounds for dispute. The company simply feels that "greater transparency will lead to less censorship." We couldn't agree more. If citizens know exactly what their governments are doing behind their backs, maybe they'll stop doing it. One can hope so, anyway.
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I hope as well

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Im sure lots of people already know the government is trying to censor certain things. This is a step to bring them out and stop them form trying to censor them i guess. Google looks for our help! Give them support :P...

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

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I'll go out on a tangent and say that they governments of this world want to censor the internet because of it's infinite amount of gateways to knowledge.

If you can censor information, you can basically control people.

BUT, theories aside, I'm glad that Google is doing this.

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"If you can censor information, you can basically control people."

You mean, if you can do so without them knowing about it. I mean, going as far as not letting them know there is other information out there, as opposed to blocking their access to it. Censorship works best when you can't tell the difference, and this is one tool that lets you do so. To be honest though, what are people going to do about it, if anything? For now, the numbers look pretty low anyway, and sorry to sound Big Brother here, but I'm sure a great deal of those requests were made for "good" reason in terms of the country's self-interest (like blocking how-to sites for bomb making or something).

Another thing to keep in mind is what the numbers refer to. The same bit of information can appear on thousands of other sites, so is each censorship request for a separate website with that information, or is it just to the "original" site? Also, how many of those requests were granted, and how many were appealed by the originators of the site content? Interesting article, but it's missing these crucial details.

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Nethersprite:
To be honest though, what are people going to do about it, if anything? For now, the numbers look pretty low anyway, and sorry to sound Big Brother here, but I'm sure a great deal of those requests were made for "good" reason in terms of the country's self-interest (like blocking how-to sites for bomb making or something).

While the numbers being low may be due to the fact that there are many websites out there (political blogs, something considered offensive to the country, etc), and there's also the fact that there are very few sites on how to make bombs (which accounts for the US's low block request number.) or any other stuff that could amount to terrorism. Trust me, why is it that you never see a site about how to make a bomb?

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TaylorKarras:
While the numbers being low may be due to the fact that there are many websites out there (political blogs, something considered offensive to the country, etc), and there's also the fact that there are very few sites on how to make bombs (which accounts for the US's low block request number.) or any other stuff that could amount to terrorism. Trust me, why is it that you never see a site about how to make a bomb?

Managed to find info pretty quickly with a google search "how to make a bomb"

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That's what I mean't Nether, I just thought it was implied =D

If people know that their sources of information are being withdrawn from them, then of course they will rise against it. But if the government does the 1984 effect without our knowledge, then the truth will become just as distorted.

And Taylor, look up the Anarchist Cookbook. It teaches you how to make homemade napalm.

.... shouldn't have said that.

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The Anarchist Cookbook is good... if you want to blow yourself up. Dig up some TM's for Combat Engs and EOD if you really want to read how to blow stuff up.

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Interesting... I thought the US would of blocked them in order to prevent another 9/11; to think they wouldn't want someone blowing up buildings and stuff.

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"If people know that their sources of information are being withdrawn from them, then of course they will rise against it."

My point exactly, just that we're not THAT far ahead yet. Right now we're just complaining about the government taking away our liberties but we don't even know the difference unless we're a target of a censorship request. But I agree with you.

"Interesting... I thought the US would of blocked them in order to prevent another 9/11; to think they wouldn't want someone blowing up buildings and stuff."

Yeah, maybe my example of bombs wasn't a good one, I guess those are pretty much easy to find. How about something like the locations of radioactive material dump sites? Those are all over the place in Russia, for example.

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Google is doing a responsible thing with this. "Knowledge IS Power" and they understand that the phrase really is true. Their efforts to unfetter people's pursuit of knowledge is commendable.

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