With gun control a hot topic of debate in North America, Google is chiming in, offering an interactive graphic that details the recent history of the global arms trade.
The visually-dazzling graphic highlights government-authorized imports and exports of small arms and ammunition from 1992 to 2010. Users are able to scroll around the globe, zooming in and out while following the lines that connect certain countries to see the evolution of their arms trading throughout the years. According to a CTV News report, the data can be isolated as well, showing only the military or civilian imports and exports for any desired country.
The graphic was a collaborative effort from the Google Creative Lab and the Igarape Institute, a think-tank based in Brazil that focuses on international co-operation and violence prevention. The global trade of small arms — including revolvers, light machine guns, assault rifles and ammunition — has created an $8.5 billion industry, reports Igarape.
"Civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen and the U.S. are among the most heavily armed on the planet," states Igarape researcher, Robert Muggah, during a Google Ideas summit held last month. Civilians, according to Muggah, control nearly 75 per cent of the small arms trade.
The interactive graphic notes that Canada imported nearly $86 million worth of small arms and ammunition in 2010. Canadian exports of such weapons came in at nearly $20 million.
Meanwhile, our gun-totting neighbours to the south led the way with nearly $996 million worth of arms imported while exporting around $606 million in 2010, less than two thirds of its imports.
And I know what you're thinking: "surprise, surprise!" Americans love their guns, and while the graphic's results shouldn't confound many, Google's apparent interest in the gun debate is a rather interesting revelation.
No more than three months ago, Google joined the anti-gun brigade when they announced a new policy that will censor information on guns and other fatal weapons from Google Shopping. This is the same company that once condemned the Chinese government for Internet censorship.
In fact, the company's Freedom of Expression policy explicitly states that they have "pressed governments to make combating Internet censorship a top priority in human rights and economic agendas," adding that "we regularly assist research efforts like the Open Net Initiative, the premier monitor of global trends on Internet censorship, by providing funds for their work."
After recent shootings in Toronto, Denver and Wisconsin, the humanitarian desire to help thwart the selling of deadly firearms is more than admirable. But is Google remiss in resorting to hypocrisy? Let us know in the comments below.
(Image from Google's Arms Trade graphic)