Google reports ‘alarming’ rise in government censorship requests
(CNN) — Western governments, including the United States, appear to be stepping up efforts to censor Internet search results and YouTube videos, according to a “transparency report” released by Google.
“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,” Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google, wrote in a blog post on Sunday night.
In the last half of 2011, U.S. agencies asked Google to remove 6,192 individual pieces of content from its search results, blog posts or archives of online videos, according to the report. That’s up 718% compared with the 757 such items that U.S. agencies asked Google to remove in the six months prior.
In one incident cited in the report, a U.S. law enforcement agency asked Google to take down a blog that “allegedly defamed a law enforcement official in a personal capacity.” The company did not comply with that request.
In another, a separate law enforcement group asked Google to take down 1,400 YouTube videos (Google owns YouTube) because of “alleged harassment.”