Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Governments and Google's data

Yesterday, Google launched an interesting tool: Government requests (see official Google blog post about this: Official Google Blog: Greater transparency around government requests).

This is good news, because it reveals to ordinary citizens the extent at which governments request content to be removed and (even scarier) personal user data to be revealed.

This tool will empower citizens to ask questions, and inquire with their representatives as to why such a large number of requests are made towards Google.

Obviously, the reason for Google's launch of this tool is to cover it's own back: with all the negative noise that was triggered by the botched launch of Buzz, Google is trying to regain some ground by showing it is more transparent as its actions while being protective of this same personal data.

What I don't like about this tool is that it is not clear which request made to Google had solid legal grounds (like removing hate or inappropriate material) and which request was censorship or border-line censorship.

Then again, who is to decide this and how are we to draw the line. Blocking a pornography site might be censorship to some and appropriate action to others.

Tough grounds to walk.

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