Ever since Google began releasing its semi-annual Transparency Report in 2010, the company has announced each iteration with statements like:
- "When Google’s services are blocked or filtered, we can’t serve our users effectively. That’s why we act every day to maximize free expression and access to information. To promote transparency around this flow of information, we’ve built an interactive online Transparency Report with tools that allow people to see where governments are demanding that we remove content and where Google services are being blocked. We believe that this kind of transparency can be a deterrent to censorship." (Sept. 2010)
- "We think it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect our users. When we first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web. So we took our first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests we received." (Nov. 2012)
- "How do governments affect access to information on the Internet? To help shed some light on that very question, last year we launched an online, interactive Transparency Report. All too often, policy that affects how information flows on the Internet is created in the absence of empirical data. But by showing traffic patterns and disruptions to our services, and by sharing how many government requests for content removal and user data we receive from around the world, we hope to offer up some metrics to contribute to a public conversation about the laws that influence how people communicate online." (Oct. 2011)
This was a company proud of its Report. Though Google would often note that the report was not complete picture of how governments accessed user data online, it couched that admission in the context that the report was growing and improving with each release. And of course, the releases would often note, other companies could do more too, and would be wise to follow Google's lead.