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Digital democracy – Google Transparency Report gets realtime updates

Google Transparency Report of Egyptian outage
Google Transparency Report of Egyptian outage / Credit: Google
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Google Transparency Report, the search giant’s public service analysis site has been updated to include realtime analytics with updated data about local outages, the company has announced.

Google Transparency Report is Google’s public service site in which the company shows how it interacts with government bodies and manages fair user access to the company’s services.

Google Transparency Report of Egyptian outage
Google Transparency Report of Egyptian outage / Credit: Google

 

 

The site is split into two sections, Government Requests; which displays the number of requests received by Google for the removal of data by governments, and Traffic; which monitors access to Google services from different countries.

The Transparency Report site came to prominence this year when the Egyptian government blocked access to the internet during political protests.  Google’s site was one of the first to provided information about the times and periods of outages across the country. However, the data was subject to a 24 hour delay before going live on the site.

Google has now reduced this delay to five minutes. And as part of the update has included data about the nature of all outages or blocks to its services since 2009. Google says this update will “[…]provide … facts [that] can spark useful debate about the scope and authority of policy decisions around the globe.” The company also promised to “continue to iterate, [in the] hope that the Report [sic] will help shed light on the accessibility and patterns of traffic to our services around the world. ”

According to the site in 2009 the Irish government made “Fewer than 10 removal requests” to Google. Half of these were acted upon by Google. Freedom of Information requests by this site in 2010 to the Departments of Communications and Justice for all departmental records requesting the removal or alteration of user data since 2009 were unable to uncover the specifics of each request. Neither department claimed to have access to this information, although both said the other departments would have such records.

While Google Transparency Report’s traffic analysis can be used to detect when web access has be denied by governments it also reveals intereting information about the nature of some countries surfing habits. According to the site the Irish are night time YouTubers, with traffic from Ireland peaking at 10pm each day. In contrast we are more likely to check our Gmail accounts between 10am and 12pm each day. We pick up our news from Google News twice a day at midday and 10:30pm (seemingly just after checking our emails and catching up on YouTube).

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).