U.S. tops Google report on censorship requests

The United States filed 6,192 requests to remove items from Google in the second half of 2011, only 42 percent of which were complied with. 

New data released as part of Google’s Transparency Report on Sunday revealed which countries requested the search engine to remove content—and it’s not who you’re expecting.

While China is well-known for its censorship, the United States led the pack with 6,192 requests to remove items from Google. However, only a fraction of the requests were successful. Google completely or partially complied with only 42 percent of the requests in the second half of 2011.

“Some requests may not [sic] specific enough for us to know what the government wanted us to remove (for example, no URL is listed in the request), and other involve allegations of defamation through letters from government agencies rather than a court orders,” the Transparency Report FAQ page stated.

The majority of the videos requested in the United States had issues of defamation or privacy and security, but Google also received requests to censor information—and not just in the United States.

“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released,” Senior Policy Analyst Dorothy Chou wrote on Google’s blog. “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.”

Chou also cited past requests to take down political criticism from officials in Poland and search results that linked to public figures in Spain. Both requests were refused.

The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and other countries had similar requests.

Photo via IsaacMao/Flickr

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