Government requests to censor Google/YouTube increase

Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend.

In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different,” Dorothy Chou, the search engine’s senior policy analyst, said in a blogpost. “We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.”

Many of those requests targeted political speech, keeping up a trend Google said it has noticed since it started releasing its Transparency Report in 2010.

“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,” said Chou…

Not publicly associated with censorship in the obedient press, that is.

In one case, Spanish regulators asked Google to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles criticizing public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.

So far Google has not complied…

Chou said that in Thailand videos featuring the monarch with a seat over his head have been removed for insulting the monarchy. The country has some of the world’s toughest “lese- majeste” laws.

In Canada, Google was asked by officials to get rid of a YouTube video showing a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet…The company refused.

Google and many other online providers maintain that they cannot lawfully remove any content for which they are merely the host and not the producer, a principle enshrined in EU law on eCommerce since 2000.

BTW, Google complies most often with requests from the United States government.

Just in case you wondered.

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