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Google Reports Rise in Government Removal Requests

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Google Reports Rise in Government Removal Requests
[ Technology]

Google has released the data from July to December of last year inside their Transparency Report, and they’ve been busier than ever. Google says that they have received more governmental requests for content removal than ever before.

“From July to December 2012, we received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content—an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that we received during the first half of 2012,” says Google Legal Director Susan Infantino.

In the United States specifically, Google saw the highest level of content removal requests ever with 262 court orders and 59 from the government/police. Most of these requests had to do with defamation, mirroring global trends.

User data requests in the U.S. were also on the rise in the time of July to December of last year, with a total of 8,438 individual requests covering 14,791 users. This is up nearly 500 from the last reporting period. Google says that they complied with 88% of these requests, which is actually lower than it has been in the past.

Here’s Google’s breakdown of the last reporting period:

  • We received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos that contain clips of the movie, “Innocence of Muslims”: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Djibouti, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Australia, Egypt, and the United States requested that we review the videos to determine if they violated our Community Guidelines, which they did not. The other 17 countries requested that we remove the videos. We restricted videos from view in Indonesia, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey. Due to difficult circumstances, we temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya.
  • We received a request from a local government agency to remove a YouTube video that allegedly defamed a school administrator. We did not remove the video.
  • We received three separate requests from local law enforcement agencies to remove three YouTube videos that allegedly defamed police officers, public prosecutors or contained information about police investigations. We did not remove the videos.
  • In response to three court orders, we removed 771 items from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.
  • We received three different court orders from different individuals that were addressed to third parties, along with a request to remove 690 items from Google Groups, that allegedly contained defamatory statements. We asked for clarification but never received a reply.
  • We received three court orders from different individuals that were addressed to third parties, along with requests to remove 452 search results that linked to websites that allegedly contain defamatory content. We removed 70 search results that we determined to fall within the scope of the orders.
  • In response to a court order, we removed 119 search results that linked to websites allegedly hosting trademark infringing material.

In March, Google began including National Security Letter requests in the Transparency Report. Today, Google says that they will start breaking down YouTube removal requests to specify whether Google removed the video due to violation of YouTube guidelines or violation of local laws.

You can view the full Transparency Report here.

Google Reports Rise in Government Removal Requests
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