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June 18, 2012

Google Releases Report Highlighting 'Disturbing' Trend of Censorship

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

In the age of the Internet, there has always been a bit of uneasiness when it comes to the companies that make their home on the Web and the governments that regulate them. Google (News - Alert) is one of those having done battle with its share of governments, and the company just released a report reporting having seen an “alarming” amount of censorship over the last six months.

The company knows from where it speaks, as Google recently had to revamp its search parameters in the wake of China’s crackdown on search terms.

While Google has certainly had its run-ins with government agencies, the 1,000+ requests from governments all over the world to remove YouTube (News - Alert) videos, as well as search listings in the last several months, is larger than most. The company says it has complied with more than half of those requests, listing all of them and whether or not it actually complied with them in a biannual Global Transparency Report. 

"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."

Google has also received as many as 461 court orders, moving for the removal of almost 7,000 different Web items. The company says it has complied with 68 percent while receiving 546 informal requests for removal. Of the informal requests, the search giant complied with roughly 46 percent. 

Google also said its study does not include countries like China and Iran, who do not request that Google take down the items, but rather blocks them without warning. In the United States, Google reported compliance with 42 percent of the government’s requests.

Edited by Braden Becker
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