Google: Transparency Report Says Government Requests Down


Google published the most recent version of its Transparency Report on Tuesday, December 23rd. The report contained data about government requests to remove content received between June and December of 2013. A Google blog post on the latest Transparency Report noted the search giant received 3,105 requests to remove 14,637 pieces of content in that six months, which brings the total number of requests received to 6,591 for  2013. That number is just over 60% higher than the number of government requests in 2012.

Google’s transparency report now offers more details

The tech titan has been publishing transparency reports on government takedown requests for nine years now, but the most recent report provides details the firm hasn’t shared in the past. For example, in order for the company to begin the process, it must receive written requests or court orders from governments. Google also has a system in place to double authenticate every document, largely because it regularly receives forged documents.

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In most cases, the governments claim defamation, obscenity or nudity, and privacy or security as the reason to remove a specific piece of content. The firm admits that most governments apply these reasons very broadly  to have articles and videos that criticize them taken down.

However, Google also notes that it doesn’t always comply with every request for removal. For example, the firm turned down a request from Australia’s plea to take down two articles from search results about the police shooting of a young man because it was clearly not “offensive”. The Colombian National Police requested Google remove a blog accusing high-ranking police of corruption, which the firm denied “for reasons of public interest.”

Turkey and Russia have high number of takedown requests

Google’s blog post highlighted that the 3,105 requests it received in 2H 2013 is a major decrease from the all-time-high of 3,846 in the first half of the year. “This is due to a spike in requests from Turkey during that period,” the firm notes, “which has since returned to lower levels.”

Although requests from Turkey have ebbed, requests have grown in Russia, Thailand, and Italy. The latter two countries are described as“on the rise,” and Russian government requests increased by as much as 25% from the last report. You can check out all of the requests made by various government at Google’s Transparency Report website on the “Explore Requests” page.

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