Google Transparency Report Highlights Internet Censorship
- Thursday, 27 October 2011 13:36
- Written by Louis P.
A Righteous Policy of Web Transparency
About a year ago, Google unveiled its Google Transparency Report, the company's latest effort to stick to its commitment on transparency and openness on the web. The new site helps users differentiate between regular Google downtime and service interruptions caused by government interference.
In addition to differentiating between normal and “government-induced” service outages, the report’s Government Requests page breaks down the numbers on government takedown requests for each country in the form of a handy Google Map. This information can range from websites, YouTube videos, and even Gmail accounts.
While Google is not the only company which receives these requests it is one of the few that makes the information public.
So What information has your government asked Google to delete?
Clicking on individual countries further breaks down the data, providing takedown stats for individual Google services as well as compliance stats and how many takedowns were court-ordered.
The report shows a sharp rise amongst the European countries requesting the takedown of online content, jointly amounting to over 300 requests, covering more than 6000 records. Germany and Norway asked for the largest number of records to be deleted (2,405 and 1,814 records respectively).
Brazil ranks high at the top of the list with a total of 224 requests for data removal, covering 689 separate records.
The U.S. government once again leads with the most requests, totalling 5,950 data subject requests linked to over 11,000 individual users or their accounts. That figure is up by nearly a quarter on the preceding half-year, with Google complying 93 percent of the time.
While the United States was keen to request the removal of YouTube videos that appear to display police brutality, but in a number of cases it did not comply. In total, U.S. authorities made 113 requests for video content to be removed, with one request under the note of “showing government criticism”. With this in mind, it may not come as a surprise that Google’s compliance was lower than other countries’, with just 63 percent of removal requests carried out.
But the numbers are probably far higher than what is disclosed publicly, as CNET colleague Elinor Mills points out, as many of these requests will be secret and classified for reasons relating to national security. Requests made by intelligence agencies will not be counted, as these will often be restricted from publication.
Governments under pressure
What is clear is that as Google makes more of this information public, the governments in question will be under increasing scrutiny to modernise many of the outdated laws that seem to infringe civil rights and liberties.
Considering many laws relating to modern electronic interception of data and email communications were written at a time when email on the most part did not widely exist, it shows a clear disparity in the laws at present, and a growing need to update laws which go above and beyond what they were intended for.
Courtesy: Zack Whittaker from ZNET; Piers Dillon Scott from Sociable