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Google report shows where its content is blocked

The search giant's new Transparency Report reveals which governments are blocking or censoring Google services and which ones are asking for details about its users.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google's Transparency Report shows which countries are asking the company to remove certain content.
Google's Transparency Report shows which countries are asking the company to remove certain content. Google

In the wake of Google's censorship battles with China and other nations, the search giant has launched a new tool to reveal which governments are blocking its services or requesting information on its users.

The company's new Transparency Report breaks down the information into two sections.

The Government Requests page offers an interactive map where you can see the number of requests by each government asking Google to remove certain content from its search page, Gmail, YouTube, and other services. Google even reveals how many of those requests it's actually complied with. This page also details the number of requests for information on specific user accounts that company has gotten from each country.

You can scroll down a chart to see the stats on each country, or click on a specific country on the map to get full details on all its requests. For now, the page offers data for the last two six-month periods, from January to June 2010 and from July to December 2009. As an example, the U.S. made 4,287 requests for user data between January and June of this year. It requested the removal of 678 items, and Google has fully or partially complied with 82 percent of those.

Although the data doesn't let you peek behind the scenes to show whether Google challenged any of the government requests, the company said in its FAQ that it hopes to provide more of that type of detail in the future.

The second section for Traffic displays the amount of traffic that different Google services get each day. Through an interactive chart, you can also see which services have gone down temporarily or have been permanently  blocked by specific countries. For example, select Iran and then click on YouTube, and Google tells you that its popular video site has been blocked by the Iranian government since June 12, 2009, following the contested presidential election.

In light of the turmoil and controversy that Google has faced in its relationship with China, the company is hoping that the new tool can provide a greater flow of information. Discussing the Transparency Report in a blog post, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said that Google believes this kind of transparency can be a deterrent to censorship.