Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Google's Transparency Report and Government Requests From Korea

I noticed a bump up in traffic to this blog over the past few days and then found that R. Elgin had called this a "neat blog" in a post over at The Marmot's Hole.   Thank you for that!   In the same post he noted a Joongang Ilbo report about the Korean government's requests for information from Google.  I'd seen the same article and this prompted me to look more closely at Google's transparency report.
During the first half of 2010, according to Google's data, the Korean government requested the removal of web content 38 times, involving a total of 8,549 items.  The Google report indicates that 100 percent of the removal requests were "fully or partially complied with."  As reported in The Korea Times, the number of removal requests was the largest in Asia and the sixth highest worldwide.
Why so many removal requests from the Korean government?  The vast majority of such requests, according to Google Korea, are for removal of URLs that contain personal information in the form of Korean resident registration numbers (RRNs), which contain date of birth, gender, registration region, and registration order.
The Korea Times article also noted that Google's transparency report did not disclose similar data for China because, according to Google "Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time."  

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