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Google unveils censorship, user data requests

For the first time, Google has disclosed the number of requests it has received from government agencies worldwide to remove content from its services or provide information about users. The search engine giant said it is sharing the data to be as transparent as possible, and hopes it will lead to less censorship. The disclosure requests are featured on a Web page, and it was made available on the same day a group of 10 countries sent a letter to the company saying it wasn't doing enough to protect privacy.

What countries topped the list for disclosure requests from government agencies? Brazil with 3,663. The U.S. was second with 3,580. Brazil also led the requests for removal of content, with Germany in second, India in third, and the U.S. in fourth.

Google's disclosure tool does not include data from China because the Chinese government considers censorship demands to be state secrets. Also excluded is the number of requests made my private parties, which the company says it hopes to make available in the future.

The figures cover the final half of 2009 and will be updated every six months. You can see Google's government requests page here and read about it on the official Google blog.

Google recently reported better-than-expected-first quarter earnings. Read our story about how long Google's profits can keep growing by visiting this page.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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