Google’s Transparency Report Reveals Goverment’s Requests for Removal of Content

By Kenna McHugh Comment

Google has a new reporting system regarding government requests. The platform is calling it the Transparency Report, an effort to be more public about government requests they have received.

The requests break down into two key categories. One category is for request for user information, and the other category is for content removal. Similar to other companies, Google reports that they receive requests on a regular basis from government agencies and federal courts around the world. Google’s Government Requests tool reveals the number of requests the platform receives from each government within six-month periods with certain limitations.

Some removal requests stem from allegations of defamation in the content, whereas others are based on “allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography.”

Since each government has their own laws, the requests surround issues that deal with a specific geographic region. For that reason, the requests are based of the legal context of a given jurisdiction. Google hopes their new tool will be helpful in discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

Let’s take United States requests as an example of how you can use Google’s new reporting system. From July to December 2010, six court orders caused the “removal of 1,110 items from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.”

Now, let’s look at India. Google received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos. The requests felt that the content was critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states. Google did not comply with these requests.

So, Google doesn’t always comply with requests from governments to remove content or YouTube videos. That is pretty cool to know. Google has some backbone. The platform doesn’t blindly follow a request for removal.

If you have the time, it makes for an interesting read to view requests from various regions and governments. On Google’s part, it’s a great public relations tool and fills the void of what is really going on between governments and our social media platforms.

On another note, does this information spike our interest even more? What other information can we ask of Google?