Google has revealed the extent to which world governments request controversial or contrary sites be excluded from search results, using its Transparency Record to highlight potential censorship. The newly updated section details Google’s response to complaints such as YouTube videos allegedly promoting terrorism, with takedown-requests from the US more than doubling in the July to December 2011 period from the previous six months.
Although Google complied with some of the requests, it did not accede to all. In the final tally for that six month period, the search giant agreed to act or partially-act on as many as 93-percent of complaints (for the US) or as few as zero (for Russia, Hungary and Turkey), depending on local laws for defamation, hate speech and the like.
“We received a request from the Passport Canada office to remove a YouTube video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. We did not comply with this request” Google
“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” Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst at Google, says of the newly-released data. “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.”
In total, over the last six months of released data, Google complied with on average 65-percent of court orders and 47-percent of “more informal requests.”