Google points to growing trend of content removal requests by governments

Internet search giant Google seems to be unhappy with the growing trend of  government requests for removal of contents and blogs. The requested content for removal also includes You Tube videos.

Calling this a worrying trend the US based search engine's legal director Susan Infantino said judges had asked the company to remove information that was critical of them, police departments wanted videos or blogs that shone a light on their conduct to be removed, and local institutions like town councils did not want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes.

The July December 2012 period saw Google receive 2,540 requests from the Indian government and courts for the removal of contents from Google products, such as blog posts or YouTube videos.

India's Computer Emergency Response Team requested removal of content from Google+, a Blogger blog, 64 YouTube videos, and 1,759 comments associated with some YouTube videos citing laws covering disruption of public order or ethnic offence laws.

It all started when people from north east part of India started fleeing from Bangalore and other major cities due propaganda against them on the social media sites.

Between July and December 2012,  the number of such requests were 90 per cent higher than those sent out in the previous six months, reflecting increasing discomfort of authorities over what they viewed as objectionable content.

Google was asked by a city cyber crime investigation cell, for instance to take off current depictions of disputed Jammu and Kashmir borders in five Google Maps domains other than maps.google.co.in.

''We did not change our depiction of the borders in response to this request,'' Infantino said in the company's official blog.

Google had also received a court order addressed to another party for the removal of 247 search results for linking to websites that allegedly violated an individual's privacy.

''We did not remove the search results because we were unable to determine their relationship to the court order. We requested clarification but did not receive a reply,'' Infantino said.

The company had launched its first Transparency Report in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affected access to information online.

According to the blog over the past four years, one worrying trend had remained consistent: governments continued to ask for removal of political content.