Monday, April 29, 2013

Governments Ramp Up Attempts To Censor Content Via Google

from the up-up-and-away dept

Google's latest "Transparency Report" shows that governments appear to be ramping up their efforts to have Google takedown content.
It probably won't come as much surprise that many of the new requests appear to be political in nature, rather than truly "illegal" content.
  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from our platforms (of which 640 were court orders—meaning we received an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year. The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests—316 to be exact—called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. We’re appealing many of these cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.
  • Another place where we saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, we received six requests, the most we had ever received in any given six-month period from Russia. But in the second half of the year, we received 114 requests to remove content—107 of them citing this new law.
As you look at some of the other notes on the requests, you see an awful lot of people in power with thin skins, demanding content they don't like be removed because it reflects negatively on them. In most of those cases, thankfully, it appears that Google has refused to take down that content.

Also highlighted quite a bit in the report are requests from various countries -- including officials in the US -- for Google to either review or to takedown the infamous "Innocence of Muslims" video. Google basically tried to follow local laws on those and took it down in some countries, but not others.

It's good to see this kind of transparency, even if it's distressing just how often we see governments trying to censor information.

No comments:

Post a Comment