Google's new Government Request tool shows exactly how many times governments from around the world either asked Google to remove content or to provide user information. And how often Google complied. It's quite the roadmap to intrusion.
The figures correspond to the second half of 2009, and will be updated every six months. Brazil currently leads the charge on both data and removal requests, although their stats may be padded by the strange flourishing of orkut there. The US came in a close second with over 3500 data requests between July and December of last year, 80.5 per cent of which Google complied with.
As Google itself points out, the "vast majority" of these are for legitimate legal purposes (the most obvious example, that they also mention, being tracking down child pornographers and their ilk). But as more and more information goes into the cloud, the line will continue to blur as to what constitutes a legitimate request, and what information is necessary versus what's frivolous privacy invasion.
The Google tool doesn't break down the information any further into the number of requests and (in the case of removal) how often they were complied with, but it's a start. And hopefully one that will lead governments to think carefully about how often then dig for our data, or attempt to censor it. [Google Blog]