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India tops censorship requests: Google report

India tops censorship requests: Google report

As expected India does not feature very favourable in the latest Google Transparency Report.

New Delhi: Google has released its latest Transparency Report and as expected India does not feature very favourably on it. According to Google the number of content removal requests the compqamny received increased by 49 per cent as compared to the previous reporting period.

On Monday Google released data showing government requests to remove blog posts or videos or hand over user information for the period July to December 2011.

While there were five court orders from India ordering the Internet giant to remove content there were 96 other requests by Indian government agencies for 246 individual items which puts India above other countries requesting for removal of content (This does not account for court orders).

In comparison Google has received 70 content removal requests for the same period from US, 66 from Brazil and only two from Pakistan. One of Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology's request was to remove six YouTube videos that satirised the Pakistan Army and senior politicians. Google did not comply with Pakistan's request.

Google has complied with 80 per cent of court orders from India regarding removal of content but has agreed to only 26 per cent of other requests by Indian government agencies.

Google had also received 2,207 requests for user data from Indian government agencies and 3,427 requests regarding users and accounts for the period July to December 2011. Google complied with 66 per cent of these data requests.

For the period from January to June 2011 there were only three court orders and 65 other requests from India.

Most of the content removal requests from India were related to defamation. National security and religious offence attracted far fewer removal requests. Google received only one request from Indian agencies from July to December 2011 for removal of pornographic content.

Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from its services and in its Transparency Report the Internet giant discloses the number of requests it receives from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations.

The trend in the Google Transparency Reports suggest that governments across the world are trying to stifle free speech.

"This is the fifth data set that we've released. And just like every other time before, we've been asked to take down political speech. 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, senior policy analyst at Google said on the official Google blog.

first published:June 18, 2012, 16:03 IST