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REVEALED: Government IS Google’s Big Brother

REVEALED: Government IS Google’s Big Brother

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Google has revealed the volume of requests it has received from governments to remove information, blog posts, YouTube videos or hand over user information, dating back to 2009, in a blog.

And it makes for some very interesting reading, showing how governments are looking to get their great oar into the (supposedly) free Internet.

And it seems the Australian government did not make any such requests to Google, although other Western states have been busy Googling and YouTube’ing their interests including UK, US as well as China (when it allowed Google in) Pakistan and Turkey.

In July to December 2011 last, UK Police Officers asked the search giant to remove five user accounts from YouTube that “allegedly promoted terrorism.”

And it seems requests from the UK government to Google have jumped 71% in the last year.

But if you think that’s bad, the US government requests to the search giant has increased a whopping 103%, including removal of 1,400 YouTube videos for (alleged) harassment, a blog that was said to defame a ‘law enforcement official’ and 218 search results linked to “defamatory websites.”

And that was just in a six month period, and has made similar bulky requests in prior years.

Bolivia (for the first time), Turkey, Pakistan and Poland all made requests to remove content its government regarded as offensive, but it seems Google refused to comply with many of the requests.

The search engine admits  this data is “troubling,” and notes “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.”

And in the first half of last year, China ordered Google to remove a total of 121 items including AdWords and since then, the search giant has pulled out of the country citing state censorship.

Spanish officials also crossed the line asking for what amounts to the restriction of political speech, requesting the removal of an astonishing 270 search results linked to public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors, as did Poland.

And it wasn’t just polite requests to ditch content….in many cases Google was obliged to act due to official court orders from irate governments.

It complied with an average of 65% of court orders, as opposed to 47% of more informal requests, Google admitted.

“We realize that the numbers we share can only provide a small window into what’s happening on the web at large,” said Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst.

“But we do hope that by being transparent about these government requests, we can continue to contribute to the public debate about how government behaviors are shaping our web.” And Germany keeps popping up also, including removal requests related to pro-Nazi material or denial of the Holocaust, both illegal under German law.