Google has been under pressure from governments the world over, but the most recent domino in the pile – the U.S. FTC antitrust investigation – is likely to hit the company hard. While Google has faced antitrust investigations before, their search practices haven’t yet been in the crosshairs. Likely as a response to this pressure, Google has released an updated version of their Transparency Report, giving both standard users and governments increased access to data about how the company runs.
The first major set of upgrades comes in the form of increased searchability. You can more easily see the changes that have happened, easy notes on why the changes happened, and can browse through the information on a country-by-country basis. The notes that indicate why changes were made, when they’re public, will describe the basic cause of censorship, removal, or major shifts in Google figures. For example, the official Google blog entry that announces the new features cites a case where over 1,100 items were removed from Google Groups because they were defamatory toward a man and his family, and a court order required Google to remove the items.
Access to censorship data is also being increased, partially through a display that shows how many requests for item, page, or site removal were made and what percent of those requests were complied with. Google’s statement indicates that this figure is meant to give users “a better idea of how we’ve dealt with the requests we receive from government agencies — like local and federal police — for data about users of our services and products.”
While Google states that these new features are meant to show users “how the web is shaped by government influence and how Google responds to requests for information and removals,” it’s also a clear message to governments that Google can, has, and will continue to comply with any local and federal requsets.
[Sources include: The Official Google Blog]