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6/18/2012
02:20 PM
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Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands

Silencing speech isn't just for dictators; democracies are trying it also. U.S. authorities, for example, asked Google to remove information 6,192 times in the second half of 2011.

Google warns that government attempts to remove online information are increasing and that some of the governments making censorship requests are Western democracies.

U.S. authorities, for example, made 6,192 requests seeking the removal of information from Google during the second half of 2011, the company said in a report published Sunday. In the first half of 2011, the U.S. government made 757 such requests.

In the U.K., authorities made 847 information removal requests during the second half of 2011, up from 333 during the first half of that year.

Google began documenting government data requests in September 2010, when it first published its Transparency Report. Prior to that, the company published data about service accessibility in China, but not elsewhere.

[ Learn more about Google's Transparency Report. Read Google Seeks Allies Against Censorship. ]

Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible both pleases and vexes governments around the world. On the one hand, governments find Google's store of data irresistible as a form of surveillance; on the other hand, they resent the role Google plays in facilitating the publication of data without prior approval and making such data available via search query.

Google made its name as a champion of personal privacy in 2005 when, unlike AOL, Microsoft, or Yahoo, it resisted a Department of Justice subpoena for its store of Internet search data. The DOJ sought the information to help it uphold the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was ultimately ruled unconstitutional.

Since then, the pressure on Google and other companies with stores of online data has only increased. Over the weekend, Google published information about government data requests from the July to December 2011 period.

In a blog post, Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou characterizes requests to limit political speech as troubling. "We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services," said Chou. "We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not."

According to Chou, some of these information removal requests come not from authoritarian regimes but from Western democracies. She points to Spanish regulators, who asked Google to remove 270 search results linking to blog posts and newspaper articles referencing public figures, specifically government officials. She also notes that an unnamed public institution in Poland asked Google to remove links to a website that criticized it.

Google did not comply with either request, she said.

In an effort to help people understand the government data requests it receives, Google continues to add additional details to its Transparency Report. Several weeks ago, Google added a section covering takedown requests for search results from copyright holders.

With its fifth biennial Transparency Report update, Google has added an aggregate view, to make it easier to understand how the company has responded to court orders, as opposed to other requests from other government agencies. Google says that during the last six months of 2011, it complied with 65% of court orders, compared to 47% of more informal requests.

More than 900 IT and security professionals responded to InformationWeek’s 2012 Strategic Security Survey. Our results cover a variety of areas critical to information risk management, including cloud, mobility, and software development. Download the 2012 Strategic Security report now. (Free registration required.)

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MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2012 | 5:17:03 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Far too generic an article for me to get too passionate in a response for or against. Clearly laws have been on the books for ages which protect against slander, intimidation (extortion or bullying which is increasing a problem in our MMA world), and others which rightly limits abuses of free speech to maintain a socially functional balance. The potentially anonymous nature of the internet makes it more difficult to prosecute these legal breaches.

Strictly based on statistics (doubling the number of items from the UK and what's up with the US going almost 8 fold from 775 to 6192), it is a little disconcerting but I'd need to see a categorized breakout of the type of request. For instance, if Google was defending child pornographer as indicated in 2005, I would probably encourage them to collaborate. Different opinion it is only to suppress criticism of government policies or decisions and an open, respectful exchange of ideas (called public debate). Perhaps it just represents the bureaucratic delay of the governments in understanding the resource that big brother Google's tracking represents and their legal ability to use it.
beezbo
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beezbo,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 11:01:46 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Awesome comment. Democrats/Republicans, joining a side means we all lose.
Darr247
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Darr247,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 10:40:16 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Sounds like we need a constitutional amendment to tell the governement to keep their noses out of what information we're searching for, and unless it's classified information they are not to ask for any sites to be blocked.
Bay Area CA Male
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Bay Area CA Male,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 9:02:10 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
The government and mainstream media is more than content to keep the people divided on issues like Zimmerman vs Trayvon or gay marriage or left and right while our beloved president obama just recently apponted a former monsanto executive to run the FDA and the same as when the 2000 election of goerge bush saw 5 of nine supreme court judges stop the recounting of votes.... the whole time the country was fighting over left and right.
Bay Area CA Male
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Bay Area CA Male,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:58:38 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
You are a moron if you think the soldiers are dying to defend our constitution.

In fact they were sent to die based on violations of the constitution.

No the soldiers are dying because companies like haliburton and blackwater can only remain profitable if the USA is at war.

No war equals no government contracts paid for by our tax dollars. and yet you id1ots still fight over obama vs romney when they are the same thing.
univer
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univer,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:49:38 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Throw in rougue corporations,(corporations are the government) and its not good.
Convoluted
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Convoluted,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:49:33 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
This is beyond contempt, thinking that the US Government made over 6,000 attempts at censorship in 6 month period. How can that possibly be justified? Why does the mainstream media overlook this to such a great degree? An occurrence of this sort should be reported more than here, and make the American people aware that their government is dealing in what is akin to book burning. To hear that 65% of court orders and 47% of more informal requests were complied with is equally frightening. Regardless of topic, I was under the impression that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the US protected speech. Google may want to let the public also know what percentage of these deletions included hate speech. For that, I can understand deletion. It doesn't justify it, it makes the deletion understandable. Is there a category in the Transparency Report to locate which branch of government made these requests? That too, I would like to know. It may affect my vote come next November.
univer
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univer,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:48:26 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Its always been that way for targeted individuals that teachers don't like, cops don't like nor fireman, local sheriff, librarians, and hospitals. It's called gang stalking. Its real and its no fun.
onefeather
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onefeather,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:46:14 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Well said. People need to wake up in this country and get their head out of the sand and take a stand..
SeaBorn
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SeaBorn,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2012 | 8:23:38 PM
re: Google Sees Surge In Censorship Demands
Unbelievable.. In the Land of the Free, and the Home of The Brave, Google should just tell the government to go to Hell. Our soldiers are dying for the right to Freedom of Speech.. This still is America, isn't it?? Or is it now becoming AMERIKA??
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