Google Reveals What Kinds Of Stuff Governments Asked It To Remove Last Year

Google might have complied with some governments’ requests to remove content, but the subject matter of those censored pieces has been revealed in the company’s latest transparency report. Also included in the report were demands from countries to turn over information about Google users.

The U.S. government is at the head of the pack of governments trying to get user info, with 6,321 requests with Google for user data during the final six months of the year, reports the San Francisco Register. That was more than any other country.

Our government agencies also submitted 187 requests to remove content from July through December last year, which was a heck of a lot more than the 92 requests between January and June. Brazil topped that with 194 requests during the final half of the year, and 224 in the first part.

Beyond what kind of content was terminated, some of the most interesting data includes what wasn’t taken down, despite government requests. For example — Google said it shut down five accounts linked to about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism in the second half of the year, after the United Kingdom complained, says BBC News.

But no dice for Canada’s Passport Office, which was denied when it asked for a video to be taken down, where a citizen urinated on a passport and then flushed it down the toilet. In Pakistan, officials wanted six YouTube videos satirizing the army and politicians to be removed, but Google refused that request as well.

Other cases did result in takedowns, many of which were due to content violating laws in those countries (such as insulting the monarchy in Thailand), or videos with hate speech.

Google said it had received 461 court orders, encompassing 6,989 items in the second part of last year, and that it complied with 68% of those. Informal requests totaled 546 cases with 4,925 pieces of content, and 43% of those were removed.

Many of these requests were linked to political speech, something that alarmed Google.

“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 Google’s senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou.

Transparencey Report [Google]
Governments asking Google to remove more content [San Francisco Chronicle]
Google reveals ‘terrorism video’ removals [BBC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. agent 47 says:

    Big government statists (i.e., pretty much everyone at this site) will love this. REGULATE!

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    It’s scary the things some governments want removed. When a country is based on freedom of speech and of the individual, these public requests make known on a small scale what the government(s) do on a much larger and secret scale. It seems that freedom of speech only applies when it doesn’t affect a politician, much like the way the do not call registry makes cold calls illegal except for political purposes.

  3. Lethe says:

    I wish they’d provided links to what they were asked to take down but didn’t.

  4. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Google has its own bunch of censors who work overtime to take down what they don’t want anyone to see. Governments just add a small amount of workload and direct them what to look out for so they won’t have to make repeated requests along the same lines.

    Case in point:

    • incident_man says:

      Michelle Malkin, IMHO, is about as credible as an actual “news” source, as…say….Fox Noise, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, or any of the other right-wing nutjobs with their agenda.

      They’re just media spin-meisters like any of the rest of them.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Google doesn’t even need to remove anything to censor it. Just bury it on page 20 of the search results so nobody can find it.

  5. Streakist says:

    All Governments then requested a take down of

  6. Whtthfgg says:

    Yay!! I get to gripe about editing for once…lol. Transparency is misspelled in the link

  7. cfs says:

    “…reports the San Francisco Register.” You mean the San Francisco Chronicle, yes?

  8. tooluser says:

    This is government censorship, in no uncertain terms. It is highly illegal in the United States, as our Constitution has enumerated, and as our Creator has endowed upon us the Right to be free of such nonsense.

    Your own petty dictatorship and Creator — or lack thereof — may have different rules.