According to recent reports from Google, there has been an appalling increase in censorship from the government in the last six months. Over 1,000 government requests to remove material such as YouTube videos and other listings were reported by the company. The company also stated that it complied with over half of the requests and details of the requests have been released in Google’s Global Transparency bi-annual report.
Google’s official statement
Senior policy analyst for Google, Dorothy Chou said that the requests that received over the last few years have been a concern for Google and it continues even today. Initially when the data was being released in 2010, government bodies from across the world would make requests to take down certain content of a political nature that users had posted. At that point, Google hoped that it was just an aberration, but are now convinced that it is not, she said. On several occasions, Google has been asked to remove political speeches and opinions. This is shocking owing to the fact that free expression is in jeopardy, added to the fact that the countries making these requests are largely democratic.
Top countries that make censorship requests
According to Google reports, 461 government orders have been sent for 6,989 items to be removed and 68% of these requests have been complied with. There were also 546 informal requests that were sent to Google with 46% of them being complied with. The reports do not include censorship information from Iran and China where censorship takes places without Google being notified.
Among the requests that were denied were 270 links and blogs pertaining to public figures from Spain, an article from a development agency from Poland and a Canadian video of a man flushing down his passport after urinating on it.