Google co-founder Sergey Brin is seen in this file image. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Google released its latest Transparency Report which covers January to June 2013, and found government requests rose 68 percent from the second half of 2012.
The search engine received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content, according to Susan Infantino, Google's legal director. However, Infantino seemed more concerned that most of the requests asked that content that was critical of the government, police or judicial system be removed.
Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services.
Infantino said that Google received 93 requests to remove this "political content" and complied with about a third of them.
Both Turkey and Russia had sharp increase in requests. For Turkey, it was in regard to its law 5651 which regulates Internet content, and for Russia it was a "blacklist law" about certain Internet domains, databases and content.
The U.S. government had 438 court orders to remove 3,415 pieces content., according to the Tranparency Report. Google complied 55 percent of the time. There were another 107 government requests and they were acted on 57 percent of the time, Google reported.
Although Google rarely talks about each court order or request, it does highlight some cases:
- It received 27 requests from a federal government agency to suspend 89 apps from the Google Play store that allegedly infringed its trademark rights. After reviewing the apps, it removed 76 apps.
- It received a request from a local law enforcement official to remove a search result linking to a news article about his record as an officer. It did not remove the search result.
- It received a court order to remove six search results linking to news articles and to claims on the Ripoff Report website that allegedly defamed a company. It removed the search results linking to the Ripoff Report, but did not remove the news articles.
Do these reports make us trust Google more? We're not sure, but it does make for some interesting reading.