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Politics & Current Affairs

Governments Often Petition Google to Enact Political Censorship

In Google's latest bi-annual transparency report, the company says it has received more requests from western democracies than ever before to take down political information. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Google has released some worrying data about the frequency with which it receives government requests to remove information from its search indices and YouTube, often of a political nature. “[Google] said Spanish regulators asked [the company] to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles critical of public figures. It did not comply. … Pakistan asked Google to remove six YouTube videos that satirised its army and senior politicians. Google refused. … UK police asked the company to remove five YouTube accounts for allegedly promoting terrorism. Google agreed.” Google complied with 42% of the requests made by the American government for information take-downs. 

What’s the Big Idea?

In Google’s latest bi-annual transparency report, the company has seen an alarming rise in the amount of data governments have requested to be taken down in the last six months. In a blog post, Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, wrote: “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.” Besides political content, Google says it receives approximately one million requests per month from copyright owners seeking to pull their content from its search indices. 

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