Google Inc. moved to highlight the issue of government censorship and demands for information about Web users, just as the Internet company came under fire from a group of government officials over the way it handles user privacy.

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The Silicon Valley giant Tuesday disclosed for the first time the number of requests it has received from government agencies for data about its users. Google also disclosed how many government requests it gets to remove content from its search engine, YouTube video site, Blogger blogging software and other services.

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Google is also showing how often it complies with government demands to remove Web content and said it later plans to include how often it turns over data on users. Google’s disclosure tool, an online country map, excluded data for China where Google says numerating the requests would be illegal.

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said the company decided that “greater transparency” about its activities could lead to less censorship. “We hope this tool will shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe,” he wrote in a blog post.


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