Google transparency report: governments sought to remove 14,637 pieces of content

23 Dec 2014

In its latest transparency report, Google has revealed that from June to December 2013 it received 3,105 requests from governments around the world to remove 14,637 pieces of content.

This was a slight decrease from the first half of 2013, which was due to a spike in requests from Turkey during that period.

According to the Transparency Report, the number of requests from Russia increased 25pc while requests from Thailand and Italy are also on the rise.

Google revealed that in the second half of 2013, the top 3 products from which governments requested content be removed included Blogger (1,066 requests), Search (841 requests) and YouTube (765 requests).

In the second half of 2013, 38pc of government removal requests cited defamation as a reason for removal, followed by 16pc for obscenity or nudity, and 11pc for privacy and security reasons.

Removal of content from Google

In Ireland during the period, its Government sought the removal of four pieces of content, bringing to nine the total number of requests for pieces of content removed.

In the last six months of 2013, three pieces of content were removed for defamation and one piece of content removed was adult content.

Google said it does not comply with all requests. “We received a request from a government official to remove a search result linking to a state-run newspaper article that reported on the official being charged in a US court for battery.

“We did not remove content in response to this request,” according to the report.

In the US, the company saw 481 requests for removal of content from the US government in the six months to December 2013, down from 545 the previous year. Half the requests it complied with came from the courts and 90pc came from government or law agencies. Sixty-eight per cent of content was removed for defamation reasons and 14pc for privacy and security reasons. Seven per cent of content was removed for bullying/harassment reasons.

In the UK, removal requests from government jumped from 117 in the six months to the end of 2012 to 132 in the second half of 2013.

Almost 80pc of content that was removed was in response to requests from government or law agencies, while almost 60pc was in response to courts.

Some 22pc of content removed in the UK was due to defamation, 21pc for privacy and security reasons, and 14pc for bullying and harassment reasons.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years