Google sees jump in government 'takedown' requests

Dec 19, 2013
Employees from Taiwan Google in Taipei on October 26, 2013

Google said Thursday it saw a big jump in early 2013 in the number of requests from governments around the world to remove online content, in many cases for political reasons.

In an update to its "" for the first half of the year, Google said it saw a 68 percent jump in the number of requests from the prior six-month period, led by big increases from Turkey and Russia.

The updated report "is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online (but) it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests," said Google legal director Susan Infantino in a blog post.

"As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world."

From January to June 2013, Google said received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content.

"Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content," Infantino said.

"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."

She said officials "often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services."

Overall, Google said it removed content in 36 percent of cases, including 54 percent in response to court orders.

In Turkey, the number of content removal requests rose by 966 percent, Google said.

That included a court order to remove search results linking to information about a political official and sex scandals—which Google did not remove. Google also ignored requests from a Turkish government agency to remove a blog that contained information about the Kurdish party and Kurdish activists as well as a Google+ profile picture showing a map of Kurdistan.

In Russia, the number of requests rose 125 percent. That included 235 requests to remove content violating a Russian Internet restriction law, of which Google removed 115 items

In the United States, Google received 27 requests from a federal government agency to suspend 89 apps from the Google Play store that allegedly infringed on trademarks, and removed 76 of the apps.

Google received a request in Argentina to remove a Google "autocomplete" search entry linking a politician's name with an illicit drug, but did not comply.

In Cyprus, Google got a request to remove names of disputed territories in a map, but refused to comply.

Explore further: Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Censors increasingly take aim at Google content

Apr 25, 2013

Google on Thursday released data showing that requests by governments to censor the Internet giant's content have hit new heights, with Brazil and the United States leading the way.

Official requests up for Web data: Google

Nov 13, 2012

Google said Tuesday the number of government requests to hand over data from users or to take down Web content rose in the first six months of 2012, extending a trend of recent years.

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

17 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

17 hours ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.