Monday, June 18, 2012

Google's official blog details government requests to pull down links, calls increased requests from countries such as Spain and Poland 'troubling'

Google last night publishing a post on its Official Blog detailing what it describes as "troubling" increases in the number of requests from governments to pull down links.

Google posts online its Transparency Report which details the number of court ordered, or government agency issued requests to pull down content. The report also details the frequency in which Google complies with those requests.

"Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," wrote Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst. "When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not."

Chou says that the frequency of requests has increased in recent years and that those requests are coming from "Western democracies not typically associated with censorship."

"For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors," Chou detailed. "In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests."