Google reports 'alarming' rise in government censorship requests

Governments not widely blamed for censorship are increasingly asking Google to remove political content from its services, the company said as it released its bi-annual transparency report.

The IT giant has been publishing data on how and why they have been asked by copyright holders and governmental agencies to remove user content since 2010. On Monday it released a new chunk of info on governments’ requests made from July to December 2011.

“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. And just like every other time before, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. 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,” Google Senior Policy Analyst Dorothy Chou said in the company’s blog.

In the last half of 2011, U.S. agencies asked Google to remove 6,192 individual pieces of content from its search results, blog posts or archives of online videos, according to the report. That's up 718% compared with the 757 such items that U.S. agencies asked Google to remove in the six months prior.

The total number of governmental requests Google received jumped by 103 per cent over the six months, the company said. It complied with an average of 65 per cent of court orders, as opposed to 47 per cent of less formal requests.


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