Google’s Transparency Report: 3,105 requests to remove content

Government requests to remove content have slightly declined

Google Transparency Report
Google Transparency Report

WASHINGTON, December 22, 2014 — Google’s latest “Transparency Report” released today shows a small decrease in the number of government requests to remove information.

According to Google’s director of legal, Trevor Callaghan, the report “shows how laws and policies affect access to information online, including law enforcement orders for user data and government requests to remove information.”

Callaghan further notes, “Our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online. However, it does provide a lens on the things that governments and courts ask us to remove, underscoring the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. We hope that you’ll take the time to explore the new report to learn more about the government removals across Google.”

Google reported that between June and December 2013, the company received 3,105 requests to remove 14,637 pieces of content. The company said that most requests were to remove content from YouTube, Blogger or Search sites. The primary reason cited for the requests was “defamation,” followed by obscenity or nudity and privacy or security.

In 2010, the company launched the report, highlighting requests back to 2009. The most requests the company received was 3,846 in June 2013, driven largely by high requests from Turkey, according to Callaghan.

The report also highlights several other interesting requests and Google’s responses.

Our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online.- Google

A Brazilian court asked Google to remove a search result that linked to a news article about a police investigation into corruption that allegedly involves a judge. Google appealed to the Superior Court of Justice, which confirmed that the company was not required to remove the content. Brazil also requested that Google remove a YouTube video that contained allegedly defamatory claims about the practices of a funeral home. Google restricted that video from view in Brazil.

The Colombian National Police asked Google to remove a blog that accused the Police high command of corruption. Google left the content on the site “for reasons of public interest.”

A political candidate in India requested that Google remove a YouTube video that allegedly associated him with corrupt financial practices. Google did not remove the video because the request did not go through proper channels.

Google reported its first request from Kosovo during this six month reporting period. The government asked Google to remove a YouTube video showing minors fighting. Google had already removed the video for violating Community Guidelines.

Monaco asked Google to remove 30 blog posts containing images that allegedly violated the privacy of one of the members of the royal family. Google removed the blog posts from domain.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked Google to remove five YouTube videos for allegedly associating an individual at the Philippine Department of Finance with financial misconduct. Google requested more information before taking action.

Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs asked Google to remove eight Play Store apps based on the Fortress of the Muslim, a Muslim prayer book. Russia labels the book “extremist” and is on the Russian Federal List of Extremist Materials. Google restricted access to the apps in Russia.

A member of the Royal Thai Parliament asked Google to remove a news article that allegedly defamed him. Google did not remove the article.

Turkey’s requests included asking Google to remove a YouTube video which included video about the Gezi Park demonstrations and 57 requests from the Telecommunications Communications Presidency of the Information and Communications Technologies Authority regarding 22 blog posts and 162 videos that allegedly made defamatory claims about Ataturk. Google did not remove the video on Gezi Park. It did restrict access to some of the allegedly defamatory videos about Ataturk.

Google also reported on privacy requests from Europe stemming from the May 2014 ruling in Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzalez. That ruling says individuals can ask search engines to remove certain results about them. Google reports it has evaluated 684,419 URLs for removal, it has received 189,238 requests, and it has removed 40.2 percent of the URLs it has evaluated.

Google also reported “significant” or “ongoing” disruptions in Iraq, China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

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Lisa M. Ruth
Lisa M. Ruth is Editor-in-Chief of CDN. In addition to her editing and leadership duties, she also writes on international events, intelligence, and other topics. She has worked with CDN as a journalist since 2009. Lisa is also President of CTC International Group, Inc., a research and analysis firm in South Florida, providing actionable intelligence to decisionmakers. She started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service. She holds an MA in international relations from the University of Virginia, and a BA in international relations from George Mason University. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Horses Healing Hearts, and is involved with several other charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and AYSO.