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Monday, June 18, 2012
Governments Keep Asking Google To Remove Online Content

Governments around the world are asking Google to remove online content from its Internet search engine, YouTube video site and other services.

In the latest update of its Transparency Report, Google disclosed the government requests it has received to remove blog posts or videos or hand over user information from July to December 2011.

The report shows that Google faces pressure as it tries to obey the disparate laws in various countries while trying to uphold its commitment to free expression and protect its users'personal information.

Google says that some requests are legitimate attempts to enforce laws related to issues ranging from personal privacy to hate speech. On the otehr hand, the search giant is also receiving many requests from government agencies trying to use their power to suppress political opinions and other material they don't like.

"Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, wrote in a blog post. "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... we've been asked to take down political speech. It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect - Western democracies not typically associated with censorship," she added.

According to the report, Brazil's government agencies submitted more content removal requests with a total of 194 during the final half of last year.

Google wound up at least partially complying with 42 percent of the content removal requests in the U.S. and 54 percent in the Brazil.

Other governments frequently reaching out to Google included Germany and India.

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