Google reveals sharp rise in requests for removal of political content

Friday, December 20, 2013
By Paul Martin

• Annual transparency report has Turkey with most requests
• United States asked search giant to remove almost 4,000 items

Dominic Rushe
GuardianUK
Thursday 19 December 2013

Google revealed a sharp rise in requests from governments asking for political content to be removed from the web in its latest transparency report published on Thursday.

From January to June the search giant received 3,846 government requests to remove content from its services – a 68% increase over the second half of 2012.

“Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes,” Susan Infantino, legal director, said in a blogpost.

“These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims,” she said.

Google reported a large increase in requests from Turkey where it received 1,673 requests from the authorities to remove content, nearly a ten-fold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests – 1,126 – called for the removal of content related to alleged violations of internet law 5651, which censors online speech.

The Rest…HERE

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