Feeds

Google report shows record rise in government takedown requests

Politicians can dish it out but can't take it

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.