Google Releases World Map of Government Censorship Requests

How would you display a somewhat abstract term like “censorship” to your users and the rest of the world?

Earlier this week, Google released the latest version of their censorship map. Via the BBC: “the new map and tools follows on from that and allows users to click an individual country to see how many removal requests were fully or partially complied with, as well as which Google services were affected.”

A Google employee released this statement on their blog:

Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products. This map shows the number of requests that we received in six-month blocks with certain limitations.

We’re still learning the best way to collect and present this information. We’ll continue to improve this tool and fine-tune the types of data we display.

You may see the map via Google. (Sorry, I couldn’t embed it into this post.)

Some additional tidbits via the BBC:


There is also a traffic graph showing Google services around the world and related traffic outages, caused either by governments blocking access to information or, more mundanely, cables being cut.

Explaining the genesis of the tool, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer wrote in the official blog: “When Google’s services are blocked or filtered, we can’t serve our users effectively. That’s why we act every day to maximize free expression and access to information.

“Free expression is one of our core values. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual,” he added.

Google is keen to reassert its freedom of expression credentials after a very public spat with the Chinese government over censorship.

You can scroll across the top of the map to see censorship going back to July 2009.

What are your initial impressions of this latest version of the censorship map?

Please let me know what you think....