Google’s recently released transparency report shows not only which countries have asked to have content removed. Google also received requests from an unnamed US law enforcement agency to take down videos of police brutality, which Google did not remove. Google also received a request from a different local law enforcement agency to remove videos that allegedly defamed law enforcement officials; it again did not comply with the request.
The transparency report details requests to move content made from January to June of 2011 and, for the first time, reveals how many requests are made by specific government agencies and authorities. Google had previously only noted requests made by countries.
The purpose of the transparency report has been to highlight online censorship around the world. Brazil made the most requests to have content removed, followed by Germany, the US and South Korea. From January to June of 2011, there was a 70 percent rise in takedown requests from US government agencies or police:
Figures revealed for the first time show that the US demanded private information about more than 11,000 Google users between January and June this year, almost equal to the number of requests made by 25 other developed countries, including the UK and Russia.
Governments around the world requested private data about 25,440 people in the first half of this year, with 11,057 of those people in the US.
Commenting on Google’s including more data, including the number of users or data specified in takedown requests, Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google, says:
We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago—long before the average person had ever heard of email.”
Google needs to maintain such a commitment to transparency, to ensure we have continued access to videos like this, of Oakland police using tear gas against Occupy Oakland protesters last night, October 25.
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