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People around the world have so many ways to communicate these days that governments are having a harder and harder time keeping secrets.

That doesn't mean they won't keep trying to control all that information that wants to be free.

This morning's "New York Times" brings us the not-so-surprising news that South Africa's government is trying to pass tougher laws on communications, making more and more subjects taboo and subject to punishment.

The U.S. government since 9/11 has taken extraordinary steps to shut down various kinds of conversations, and now we have courts and cops that can act completely in secret.

Fortunately, there are folks out there who help us keep track of how free our speech is. Google on Thursday issued its report on government requests to take down information.

Requests by governments to restrict or remove content increased by 26 percent in the last six months of 2012.

"In more places than ever, we've been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services," wrote Susan Infantino, Google's legal director, in a blog post. "In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates."

The powerful around the world just can't stand in the light.

Which is why we must all be vigilant to make sure that government (of the people, by the people and for the people) remains open at all levels and in all ways.

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