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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Government Removal Requests To Google On The Rise

The number of government requests to Google in order to remove data from its search engine were significantly increased in the second half of last year.

As part of Google's Transparency Report, the company released new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from Google's services.

From July to December 2012, Google received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content - an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that Google received during the first half of 2012.

Google said it was asked to remove political content that people post on its services. In this particular time period, the company also received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates.

During the second half of 2012, Google reported a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where the company received 697 requests to remove content from its platforms (of which 640 were court orders?meaning Google received an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year. The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. Susan Infantino, Google's Legal Director, said the company was appealing many of those cases, on the basis that the content was protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.

Another place where Google saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, Google received six requests. But in the second half of the year, Google received 114 requests to remove content - 107 of them citing this new law.

During this period, Google also received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie "Innocence of Muslims." While the videos were within Google's Community Guidelines, the company restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints. Google also temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya due to the particularly difficult circumstances there.

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