Rise in UK requests for Google content removal
Quote:Rise in UK requests for Google content removal
26 October 2011 Last updated at 12:58
Google said it experienced a 71% jump in UK government and court requests to remove content from its web search, YouTube and other services.
The figure relates to the period between January and June this year compared to the previous six months.
The search site said it received 65 requests for a total of 333 items to be removed over the period.
The US company said it fully or partially complied with 82% of the demands.
Google said six of the requests related to videos on its YouTube site that raised national security concerns. Twelve were court orders linked to defamation, privacy and other issues.
The data was released as part of the firm's latest Transparency Report, which it publishes twice a year.
"As the report shows, we don't simply censor on request, we ensure there is a case for removal," said company spokesman Stephen Rosenthal.
The rise in the rate of UK requests outpaced many other countries.
Germany made 118 requests, a 6% rise over the previous period; France made nine demands, a 61% fall; and the US made 92 requests, a 70% rise.
"The government takes the threat of online extremist or hate content very seriously," said a Home Office spokesman.
"Where unlawful content is hosted in the United Kingdom, the police have the power to seek its removal and where hosted overseas, we work closely with our international partners to effect its removal."
Elsewhere, Google said it rejected a request to remove 236 communities and profiles from its Orkut social network in India after complaints that they were critical of a local politician.
However, it did restrict users in Turkey from being able to see material about the private lives of political officials. It also restricted access to 225 YouTube videos which allegedly insulted Thailand's monarchy, an illegal act under local laws.
Quote:Google faces more gov't demands for user info
2011-10-26 03:19:18 GMT2011-10-26 11:19:18(Beijing Time) SINA.com
Google is dealing with more government demands to turn over information about its users as more people immerse themselves online.
The mounting pressure on the Internet search leader emerged in a statistical snapshot that Google Inc. released Tuesday of its dealings with authorities around the world. Google provided a country-by-country capsule of its legal sparring with authorities during the first six months of the year.
This is the fourth time Google has disclosed a six-month summary of government requests since it started reporting the numbers last year following a high-profile showdown with China's communist government over online censorship. In Tuesday's update, Google included the total number of user accounts targeted, instead of just the number of requests made by police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies at all levels of government worldwide.
Google received more than 15,600 requests for user data in January through June period, 10 percent more than during the final six months of last year. The requests in the latest period spanned more than 25,400 individual accounts worldwide — a tiny fraction of Google's more than billion users.
Google became a caretaker of sensitive personal information through its dominant search engine, which processes about two of every three online queries in the U.S. and an even larger share of queries in parts of Europe. The company also vacuums up information about what people are doing and thinking through its YouTube video service and increasingly popular Gmail service for communications. Meanwhile, Google is trying to get users to share even more tidbits about their lives on a social networking service called Plus, which has attracted more than 40 million accountholders since it debuted in June as an alternative to Facebook.
All that information makes Google a potentially valuable resource for authorities fighting crime, terrorism or other activities.
The highest volume of government demands for user data came from the U.S. (5,950 requests, a 29 percent increase from the previous six-month stretch); India (1,739 requests, up 2 percent); France (1,300 requests, up 27 percent); Britain (1,273 requests, up 10 percent); and Germany (1,060 requests, up 38 percent).
Google also listed how many times governments sought to censor video on the company's widely watched YouTube video site or demanded some other piece of content be removed for reasons ranging from privacy concerns to laws prohibiting hate speech.
The volume of worldwide censorship demands from governments remained at roughly the same level it reached in the previous six months, although there were sharp spikes in some countries. In Britain, for instance, the government asked Google to remove 220 videos from YouTube during the first six months of this year, compared with 40 videos during the previous six months. The British government wanted most of the videos taken down for "national security" reasons.
Google declined to provide more details on the videos that the British government saw as national security risks. Britain's Home Office would only say that "the government takes the threat of online extremism or hate content very seriously."
Google acquiesced to 82 percent of the British government's censorship demands in whole or part, according to Tuesday's breakdown.
The company usually complies with at least a portion of most government demands. Google has said it often has little choice because it must obey laws in the countries where it operates. The alternative is to leave, as it did last year when it shifted its search engine to Hong Kong so it wouldn't have to follow mainland China's censorship requirements.
In the U.S., Google gave federal, state and other agencies what they wanted 93 percent of the time. The nearly 6,000 requests affected more than 11,000 user accounts in January through June.
In India, Google honored 70 percent of the 1,739 requests, which targeted more than 2,400 users, the second-highest totals.
Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, rejected the most government demands for user information in Argentina, where it denied 68 percent of requests. It complied with less than 50 percent of government requests for user data in Canada, Chile, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and South Korea.
By disclosing how many government requests it receives every six months, Google hopes to encourage the passage of new laws that will give the company more leverage to deny government access to people's online communications and activities.