Google takedown request data doesn't show full censorship picture
The United States led the world in the raw number of online items that judges and other officials asked Google to remove from its search engine or other products during the second half of 2011, according to biannual data released by the company.
The total number of 187 such U.S. requests--117 of them court orders--is a 103 percent increase in the number of official takedown requests made by officials during the first half of 2011, according to the data. The requests added up to 6,192 items requested for removal; in terms of actual number of requests, Brazil led the United States by submitting to Google 194 requests during the second half of 2011. However, Brazilian officials only asked for 554 items to be removed.
Google fully or partially complied with 40 percent of U.S. court orders issued in the second half of 2011 and 44 percent of police and official other requests, it says.
"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," wrote Dorothy Chou, a Google senior policy analyst in a June 17 blog post.
As CNET notes, however, the data doesn't paint a comprehensive portrait of worldwide censorship since countries such as China and Iran "block content without notifying Google."
The data also doesn't account for the per capita ratio of items according to population. U.K. officials, for example, placed 49 requests to remove 847 items during the second half of 2011, meaning that for every person residing in the United Kingdom, U.K. officials collectively asked for 74,436 items to be removed. The U.S. ratio per individual is 50,686 items.
Other data posted online by Google shows that court orders against alleged defamation was the leading reason for U.S. court orders in the second half of 2011, with judges issuing 53 takedown orders targeted mainly against Google's search engine. There were zero court orders asking for removal of online items due to national security; there was one police or other officials request related to national security placed against YouTube.
Privacy and security, meanwhile, was the leading reason for American police or other official requests during the second half of 2011, with such officials sending Google 21 requests, mainly regarding YouTube.
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