There has been a 49% rise in the amount of internet content censored in India as stated by the internet giant Google. This trend of blocking content is increasing among the governments around the world, more surprisingly in Western democracies.
Google stated that it has received over 1000 requests from governments all over the world during the second half of the last year to remove items such as YouTube videos and search listings. And Google complied with them more than half the time. The primary reason for requests for removal of the content in most of the cases was political comments.
A Google official said, “We noticed that government agencies from different countries would ask us to remove political content that the users had posted.”
He also added that the number of requests for removal of content by Google in India was 49% more during the second half of the last year as compared to the first half. However the requests made by the governments were not mentioned in the transparency report. The reports from Google didn’t provide any information about countries such as China, where tight Internet controls allow blocking of content.
The requests for blocking the content included requests for removing the satires on military Generals in Pakistan, request from UK police officers to terminate six YouTube videos for terror contents and SOS for removal of as many as 149 videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in Thailand.
Google mentioned that Pakistan’s IT ministry asked it to remove six videos from YouTube that according to them satirized the country’s military and senior politicians.
“We did not comply with the request,” it said. A company top official said that the prime request from the governments were mostly to take down political speech. “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.”
Just like India, request from US to remove content also doubled up. Whereas countries like Ukraine, Jordan and Bolivia also showed up to get content removed for the very first time. From political to terror inspirations, Google said that requests at times became ludicrous as Canadian officials wanted removal from YouTube of pictures of a citizen peeing on his passport and flushing it down a toilet.
By releasing the transparency report, Google hopes to continue to contribute to the public debate about how are our governments shaping our web.
The firm received a total of 461 orders demanding the removal of 6989 items during July-December 2011, out of which Google complied with 68% court orders. Google also received 546 informal requests covering 4925 items, from which it agreed to 43% requests.
Source: Times Of India