Google is a strong advocate to have on your side when it comes to being able to access as much data as possible. They don’t much care for censorship, and have taken yet another stand on the subject. Today they launched a new tool to help people track what information their countries are asking Google to get rid of.
The Government Request Tool will give you information about the requests for user data or content removal Google receives from government agencies around the world. In many cases, these requests may be legitimate. Google complies with requests to hand over information for a criminal case. They immediately remove any type of child pornography that is brought to their attention. However, Google steadfastly refuses to remove content simply because some government doesn’t feel that their citizens should see it.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Written in 1948, the principle applies aptly to today’s Internet — one of the most important means of free expression in the world. Yet government censorship of the web is growing rapidly: from the outright blocking and filtering of sites, to court orders limiting access to information and legislation forcing companies to self-censor content.
This tool will not show you what countries are blocking services or sites from their citizens. That is something that Google is working on creating, though. They firmly believe in an open exchange of information, and are not happy that so many countries are attempting to control what their people are allowed to read and learn. They are banging on the doors of the closed world and changing the way things are “done.”