Feeds

Google report shows record rise in government takedown requests

Politicians can dish it out but can't take it

Google's latest transparency report has shown requests for content removal by governments around the world rose 26 per cent in the last six months of 2012, with complaints about defamation being by far the most common reason.

"As we've gathered and released more data over time, it's become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown," said Susan Infantino, Google's legal director, in a blog post.

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

Between July and December last year there were 2,285 requests from government for the removal of 24,179 pieces of content, compared to 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content in the first half of the year. Russia, Brazil and India were the fastest growing sources of complaints, due to local conditions.

Google Transparency report

Thin-skinned government officials get grabby (click to enlarge)

In Russia, President Putin's regime passed a new law which makes defamation of public officials or data thought to be harmful to children much easier to remove. The country's government made six takedown requests to Google in the first half of 2012, but after the law came into force this rose to 114 in the latter half of the year – about a third of which Google agreed to enforce.

Brazilian government officials made 697 requests, and at one point Google was getting three court orders a day to remove content. The Chocolate Factory pinned this rise to the autumn municipal elections and a Brazilian election law that "forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates." Google acceded to some demands, but is fighting many others on free speech grounds.

India also saw a 90 per cent increase in takedown requests over the six-month period, with the local Computer Emergency Response Team wanting content removed from Google+, a Blogger blog, and YouTube, including 64 YouTube videos and 1759 comments associated with videos. A city Cyber Crime Investigation Cell also submitted five (refused) requests to redraw the disputed Kashmiri border on Google Maps.

In the US, Google reports removing 771 items from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family, and 119 search results that led to websites accused of trading in trademark-infringing material. There's also some evidence of speculative attempts, where requests to remove 690 pieces of content from Google Groups were ignored when the requesters didn't respond to further communication.

Back on British shores, an unnamed MP asked Google to take down a blog post that claimed he was advising businesses while serving in government. Google denied the request, but forwarded it to the blogger who later took down the content. The British police also asked for two YouTube removals – one claiming malpractice and another on police racism – but these requests were turned down.

The other big driver behind the increase was the furor over the execrable "Innocence of Muslims" film put up on YouTube. It prompted 20 countries to raise concerns that it broke community guidelines and Google restricted access to it for internet users in Indonesia, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey, plus temporarily bans in Egypt and Libya. ®

More from The Register

next story
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.