Google Transparency Report reveals global political censorship trend

By on June 18, 2012, 4:00 PM

Google blogged Sunday that it continues to be regularly disheartened by a portion of the removal requests it receives, requests which appear to promote "alarming" types of censorship. Political speech, in particular, is a growing request pegged for removal by many countries -- including Western democracies.

Serving as a record of removal and personal user identification requests, Google's global Transparency Report offers worldwide insight into matters of politics, intellectual property and harassment. The report is perpetuated by Google in an attempt to maintain a certain level of transparency, as the company is often asked to strike controversial content from its services and divulge identifying information regarding certain users.

Included in the report are the dates of and types of requests, the public and private entities who made the requests and how Google chose to respond to those requests. Just a couple of years ago, Google also added an interactive tool to view censorship and information requests, but the raw data remains available in a more familiar spreadsheet form as well.

Marking the fifth release of the report, the search giant took a moment to reflect on some of the more interesting data points contained therein.

For example, Spain petitioned Google to remove over 270 search results in which news media painted an unfavorable picture of its public officials. During the same period, a U.S. law enforcement agency petitioned Google to remove 1,400 YouTube videos for alleged harassment -- Google complied with neither request.

By the way, U.S. requests more than doubled since last reporting period.

Turkey's Telecommunications Communication Presidency of the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (yes, really) requested that Google remove several YouTube videos of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a pivotal Turkish political figure during the 1920s and 1930s. Google complied with one video as it contained "hate speech" but disregarded the others as they did not violate YouTube guidelines.

Meanwhile, in the corporate world, Microsoft receives top honors for its myriad of copyright-related requests.

Although Google rejects many requests, it complies with nearly as many. According to the company, it was complicit with roughly 65 percent of all court orders and 47 percent of informal take-down requests.

User Comments: 5

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Guest said:

Show some balls Google. You crying and bitching but the truth is that it is your own fault. Google only see $$$ signs everywhere and you will go anywhere (without Vaseline!) just to get a slice of the market (China springs to mind, Syria, Burma, Iran and many others). You will gladly agree to any censorship if in return you get more M of $$$. DO NOT even try to pretend that it is not true.

Guest said:

I don't believe in censorship... I understand that some things are inappropriate, but hey if you don't like it, just don't look at it.. it was like when Hustler first came out it was being banned all over the USA but, in the end justice prevailed. Not to mention that you are well within your rights to voice your own opinion on the topic as well. In fact voicing your own opinion couldn't even win the other person over, granted that it depends on the subject matter

treetops treetops said:

Whats next will they censor articles telling us websites are being censored?

Guest said:


"There's nothing wrong with censorship - people should be more discreet anyway."

My mind is blown. Do you enjoy being ignorant? Does living in a little bubble world help you sleep as long as you can ignore and not be told the truth about what really happens in the world? People like you are just as frightening as any dictator or terrorist.

TJGeezer said:

Well, I know of at least one high official who made a compelling argument in favor of the state censoring, I mean protecting the indiscreet public from, whatever information it deems risky:

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

-- Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister, Third Reich

Now, there's a guy who knew about censorship. Gotta listen to the experts, yah?

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