Google: government requests to censor content "alarming"

Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:24am EDT
 

By Claire Davenport

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend.

In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world's largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.

"Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," Dorothy Chou, the search engine's senior policy analyst, said in a blogpost. "We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not."

Many of those requests targeted political speech, keeping up a trend Google said it has noticed since it started releasing its Transparency Report in 2010.

"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 Chou. (here)

In the second half of last year, Google complied with around 65 percent of court orders and 47 percent of informal requests to remove content, it said.

The censorship report offers an overview of which officials have asked Google to delete content and why.

In one case, Spanish regulators asked Google to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles criticizing public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.   Continued...

 
The blacked-out homepage of Google is pictured in this January 18, 2012 handout photograph. REUTERS/Staff