In an effort to combat the rising tide of online censorship, Google Inc. released a new tool Tuesday to show users where it gets the most pressure to remove content from its services and turn over personal information about its users as a part of criminal investigations.
The move marked the first time that Google has provided detailed information on such requests. The Internet giant, which pulled its search engine out of mainland China last month, is taking a harder stance against online censorship. It said it’s hoping other companies will follow suit.
The new tool breaks down by country and service the number of government demands in the second half of 2009 in the 100 or so countries where it operates.
Google did not say how often it complies with demands.
Companies like Google receive a torrent of such requests.
The vast majority of such requests are legitimate, such as removing child pornography, Google’s top lawyer, David Drummond, said in a blog post. But Google is betting that making the data about the requests more broadly available will lead to less censorship that is not legitimate.
Google itself is under fire for its privacy practices.
Nine foreign privacy commissioners released a letter Tuesday that accused the company of violating users’ privacy with the release of its social networking service Buzz and the way it runs Google Street View. The commissioners from Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain also held a news conference in Washington.