Google reports new highs for governments requesting content to be removed


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Google issued its Content Removal Transparency Report for the first half of 2021, and warned it has continued to see a rising trend in requests from governments, as they pass new laws to allow content to be removed.

“These laws vary by country and region, and require the removal of content on a very wide range of issues — from hate speech to adult content and obscenity, to medical misinformation, to privacy and intellectual property violations,” Google vice president of trust and safety David Graff wrote.

“While content removal and local representative laws are often associated with repressive regimes, they are increasingly not limited to such nations.”

Leading the way on the number of requests was Russia, India, South Korea, and Turkey, with Pakistan, Brazil, the US, Australia, Vietnam, and Indonesia closing out the top ten.

In terms of volume of items asked to be removed, Indonesia led the way thanks to a single request to have over 500,000 URLs removed in the archipelago for violating gambling laws. Google said it removed over 20,000 URLs and was reviewing the remainder.

Russia picked up the number two slot, followed by Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, the US, Turkey, and Brazil.

In the United States with 404 requests, 45% of requests were related to defamation mainly in search results, followed by trademark-related requests most commonly on YouTube, and privacy and security reasons.

For Australia with a new high of 392 requests, the standout reason was bullying and harassment which made up 80% of requests. Of those 315 requests, 261 were related to Gmail.

Defamation led the way in India’s 1,332 requests relating to 28% of government requests, followed by impersonation on 26% which referred mainly to Google Play Apps pages.

“We received a request from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India, the designated authority under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, regarding content on Google Play,” the search giant said.

“Due to confidentiality restrictions mandated by Section 69A, we are unable to provide any details about the content at issue or the action(s) taken by Google.”

During the year to the end of June, Google said it received a request in South Korea to delist around 5,000 URLs relating to “non-consensual explicit imagery of digital sex-crime victims” on its search results, and it removed over 3,000 URLs.

South Korea’s 991 requests dealt with privacy or security 80% of the time.

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