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Google's transparency report highlights 'alarming' rise in web censorship

Google's transparency report highlights 'alarming' rise in web censorship

Google in its latest transparency report has revealed the number of requests for content removal from the governments of different countries, including the Western democracies, has substantially increased.

Google revealed that it had received more than 1,000 requests from the governments around the world to pull down content such as YouTube videos and search listings. Google added it had removed half of the content requested by the governments.

"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, said in a blog post. "When we started releasing this data, in 2010, 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."

For India, Google said, there is a sharp rise of 49 percent in online content censorship from the country. However, the requests made by the Indian government were not published in the company's transparency report.

The Pakistan government sought removal of six YouTube videos that allegedly ridiculed the country's military and senior leaders. Google, however, did not adhere to the request.

The Thailand government asked Google to remove as many as 149 YouTube videos that allegedly mocked the monarchy in the country. Check out Google's transparency report in detail here.

Interestingly, Google's transparency report did not shed light on countries such as China and Iran, where the local governments have stricter control on the Internet and can block the content without notifying Google.

In total, over the last six months of released data, Google complied with on average with 65 percent of court orders and 47 percent of “more informal requests.”

Google's Chou in the blog post further said that the rising requests for content removal are “alarming” as they not only put freedom of expression at risk, but some of the requests came from western nations which are not “typically associated” with censorship.

Back in India, Google has already fought multiple court cases on the issue of web censorship. The Indian government wants Internet companies to develop a content monitoring mechanism and pull down objectionable content on the social networks and other websites.

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