Google On How It Censors Content (Ahead Of World Day Against Cyber-Censorship)

Chris CrumSearchNews

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World Day Against Cyber-Censorship is this coming Monday - March 12.

Here's the official description for that:

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (on 12 March 2011) is intended to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all. Never have so many countries been affected by some form of online censorship, whether arrests or harassment of netizens, online surveillance, website blocking or the adoption of repressive Internet laws. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals. Around 120 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online. World Day Against Cyber-Censorship pays tribute to them and their fight for Internet freedom.

Google wrote a blog post about its approach to content removal today, gearing up for the event. The company says nothing has changed since it first outlined its approach, four years ago.

"At Google, we have a bias in favor of free expression—not just because it’s a key tenet of free societies, but also because more information generally means more choice, more power, more economic opportunity and more freedom for people," writes Rachel Whetstone, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Public Policy. "As Article 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

"That said, we recognize that there are limits," she adds. "In some areas it’s obvious where to draw the line. For example, we have an all-product ban on child pornography. But in other areas, like extremism, it gets complicated because our products are available in numerous countries with widely varying laws and cultures."

Google says it takes down "as little as possible" when it comes to search, though it does remove content from results when required by law. As far as Google's user-generated content sites, it relies on use guidelines and polices these sites (like YouTube, Blogger, Google+, etc.) accordingly.

Google, of course, has its transparency report, where you can go anytime to see content removal requests (as well as data requests) by country.

Last month, an Indian court ordered some web companies, including Google (and Facebook), to filter some content deemed "morally or religiously objectionable".

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.