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Some information posted on the web are really sensitive. Especially when these discuss political issues. It is no wonder why Google’s Transparency Report shows some surprising trends.
It’s alarming, they say
Some articles regarding the issue refer to the trend as alarming. While others also mention that most of the requests are from countries that have democratic forms of government.
The case of US….
For the period of July to December 2011 there was a total of 187 content removal requests from the US government. These requests are equivalent to 6,192 items requested to be removed from the search results.
A content removal request may actually include a lot of items.
Let’s go back a bit…
The data available online is from the period of 2009 until 2011. These are the figures for US:
Content Removal Requests
Items Requested to be Removed
Removal requests fully or partially complied with
July to December 2009
January to June 2010
July to December 2010
January to June 2011
July to December 2011
Some general trends – July to December 2011
According to the data released by Google, there are actually two request categories – court orders and other forms of government request (executive, police orders, etc.).
Brazil is on top in terms of the number of court orders with a total of 128 and followed by US with 117 and Germany has 60. Most of the countries have less than 10.
While for the other types of requests, India is on top with 96 followed by South Korea with 94 and US (70). Again, most of the countries that submitted their requests have less than 10.
Here’s an interesting trend – Brazil leads all countries in the total number of requests with194 (equivalent to 554 items). But in terms of the total number of items requested to be removed, US is on top with a total of 187 (6,192 items).
Overall there was a total of at least 467 court order requests (equivalent to >7,000 items) and at least 561 other requests (equivalent to >4,979 items).
Is it really that alarming?
According to edition.cnn.com, “In last half of 2011, U.S. agencies asked Google to remove 6,192 pieces of content. That’s up 718% compared with the previous six-month period.”
Actually, there was really a drastic increase as compared to the previous period (January to June 2011), wherein there was only a total of 757 items that were requested to be removed.
However, it will also be faulty to assume that there was really that massive increase because the number of items that are requested to be removed depend on the number of content removal requests. So it will be better to actually interpret the data based on the number of removal requests rather than on the number of items that were requested to be removed.
Thus, for US there was an increase of 103% in the total number of removal requests. From 92 in the period of January to June 2011, it increased to 187 in the second half of 2011.
It may really be alarming but some of these requests are really valid. It depends on the case and on the reason why there was a removal request.
The other side of the story
It’s clear that there are two contending sides right now regarding this issue. Those who are against the requests and against censorship and those who just protects some interests.
Again, it goes back to the issue of censorship, especially for the countries that have democratic forms of government. According to Google, it is really alarming that there is a drastic increase in the total number of removal requests and items that were removed during the period of July to December 2011.
It is alarming but maybe there is another side to the story that needs to be explained. Now the question is what are the reasons why was there an increase in the number of removal requests?
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