Google: Western democracies too seek to censor political content

The company released on Sunday its Transparency Report on content takedown and user information requests from governments

Western democracies, which are not typically associated with censorship, have demanded that Google take down certain political videos, blog posts, and other content, the company said Sunday.

The company as on previous occasions has been asked to take down political speech in many countries, Google said.

"It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect--Western democracies not typically associated with censorship," said Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst in a blog post.

Google received for example a request from Canada's passport issuing office to remove a YouTube video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. "We did not comply with this request," Google said.

Spanish regulators asked Google in the second half of last year to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers that referred to individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. "In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it," Chou said. Google said it didn't comply with both requests.

U.S. government requests to remove content have for example increased by 103 percent in the second half of last year from the first half, Google said in its Transparency Report which it released Sunday.

In the U.S., one of the requests the Internet company received was from a local law enforcement agency to remove 1,400 YouTube videos for alleged harassment, but it did not comply with the request. It also received a court order to remove 218 search results that linked to allegedly defamatory websites, and removed 25 percent of the results cited.

But Google also complied with some requests from governments such as one from Thailand to remove 149 YouTube videos that allegedly insulted the country's monarchy, which is a crime in the country. "We restricted 70 percent of these videos from view in Thailand in accordance with local law," it said. Following a request from a UK police association, Google terminated five YouTube user accounts that allegedly promoted terrorism on the grounds that they violated the website's guidelines, and removed as a result about 640 videos.

Worldwide, Google said it had received over 467 court orders covering over 7000 items between July and December 2011. It also received 561 other requests, including from the police, covering about 5,000 items in the second half.

Other countries that are known to have differences with Google over online content also continued to demand removal of such content. In India for example the number of content removal requests from the government increased by 49 percent compared to the previous reporting period.

Google along with some other Internet companies already faces lawsuits in India for content found objectionable on its websites. A key issue in the dispute is whether an intermediary can be held liable for third-party content on its websites.

The U.S. topped in requests for user data with 6,321 requests of which 93 percent were fully or partially complied with, while India came second with over 2,000 requests of which 66 percent were complied with by Google. Some of the requests in the U.S. were on behalf of other governments.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?