Google Transparency Report Shows Troubling Spike in Government Demands for Takedowns
Google released its regular report on government requests for information and/or to remove content. Google notes:
Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not. This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. And just like every other time before, we’ve been asked 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.
The governmental requests include
- Canada: “We received a request from the Passport Canada office to remove a YouTube video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. We did not comply with this request.”
- Pakistan: “We received a request from the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology to remove six YouTube videos that satirized the Pakistan Army and senior politicians. We did not comply with this request.”
We received four requests from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in violation of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. We restricted 70% of these videos from view in Thailand in accordance with local law.
Google’s release sparked the EFF to release the following chart:
More Info: Google Transparency Report; Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can’t Have Anything Nice, New Statesman;