Google has published a map showing how often governments around the world have asked the firm for data on users or for information to be removed from search results.
The interactive Government Requests map was unveiled by Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, and shows government requests from July to December 2009.
"In the spirit of these principles, we hope this tool will shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe.
"We also hope that this is just the first step towards increased transparency about these actions across the technology and communications industries."
Top of the list of user information requests is Brazil with 3,663 inquiries, reflecting the strength of Google's Orkut social networking system in the country.
The US comes second with 3,580 requests and the UK third with 1,166, the highest in Europe by a considerable margin.
Brazil also tops the lists of information removal requests, with 291 instances. Germany comes second with 188 and India third with 142, edging out the US on 123.
Drummond acknowledged, however, that the data is incomplete. Certain requests have not been made public in cases when it would harm an ongoing investigation, for example, while countries that made fewer than 30 user information inquiries or 10 data removal requests do not show up on the map.
Technology companies have traditionally handed over user details when asked by governments to help in criminal or civil cases, but this is the first time that a company has been so open about the extent to which it passes on user information.
The announcement comes as global privacy officials prepare to meet with Google to discuss concerns that the search firm's applications collect too much data on users.
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