Google have reported that requests for Google to censor content or searches has risen by about a third since their last transparency report.
From July to December 2012, Google received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of
content, an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that received during the first half of 2012. The report states:
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. 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.
Notable stats include:
There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from Google platforms (an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year.
In Russia, a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, Google received six requests. But in the second half of the year, Google received 114 requests to remove content, 107 of them citing this new law.
Google received inquiries
from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie Innocence of Muslims . Google restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints.
Data from Google shows the number of requests for user information from law enforcement agencies are at an all time high.
The search giant said it had received 21,389 applications from government officers and the courts over the last six months of
2012. That is 17% up on the same period the previous year. The number of requests has risen over every half-year cycle since Google started publishing details three years ago.
Google said it handed over at least some data in 66% of the most recent
The US made more requests than any other country with 8,438 submissions. Google complied fully or partially with 88% of these. By contrast all of Turkey's 149 requests and Hungary's 95 applications were rejected outright.
The UK made
1,458 requests - a very slight rise on the same period in 2011. 70% of them resulted in some information being provided.
Google will decline requests for user information from totalitarian governments in Africa that seek to crack down on online communication. Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters in Nairobi:
these requests all the time. It is different in countries where we have servers and staff because they can be arrested and harassed. We are careful where we open offices and put our servers.
Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from our services. In this report, we disclose the number of requests we receive from each
government in six-month periods with certain limitations.
Governments ask companies to remove content for many different reasons. For example, some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to
allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography. Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction. We hope this tool will be helpful in discussions
about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 14 search results for linking to sites that criticize the police and claim individuals were involved in obscuring crimes. We did not remove content in response to
this request. In addition, we received a request from another local law enforcement agency to remove a YouTube video for criticizing the agency of racism. We did not remove content in response to this request.
The number of content removal
requests we received increased by 98% compared to the previous reporting period.
We received five requests and one court order to remove seven YouTube videos for criticizing local and state government agencies, law
enforcement or public officials. We did not remove content in response to these requests. We received a court order to remove 1,754 posts from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family. We removed 1,664 of the
posts, which fell within the scope of the order. We received three court orders to remove 641 search results for linking to websites that allegedly defame organizations and individuals. We removed 233 of the search results requested, which fell within
the scope of the orders. In response to a court order, we removed 156 search results because the web pages in question used a trademark in violation of an earlier order.
The number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared
to the previous reporting period.
We received two requests from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 14 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in violation of
Thailand's le'se-majeste' law. We restricted three of these videos from view in Thailand out of respect for local law.
The massive wave of DMCA takedowns sent by rightsholders to Google in recent months is growing at an astonishing rate. During the past month the number of takedown requests received by the search giant doubled to almost 1.5 million URLs per week. To put
that into perspective, exactly one year ago weekly URL takedowns numbered just 131,577 per week, an increase of 1,137%.
During the week starting August 13, Google received takedown requests for 1,496,220 URLs, up 35% on the record set just two
weeks earlier and a huge 1,137% increase over the 131,577 URL takedowns requested August 8 2011.
Google says that during the last four weeks it was asked by 1,825 copyright owners and 1,406 anti-piracy reporting organizations to remove 5,733,402
URLs across 32,545 domains, truly huge numbers which on recent trends look likely to increase.