Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

Summary: Google's role as archivist for important videos that capture history in the making will not be removed from YouTube just because they portray police officers behaving badly.


Regardless of its intentions, Google has given the protesters involved with the Occupy Wall Street a bit of hope that freedom of speech in the United States is still alive and well - and comes in the form of YouTube videos.

The company has released its Transparency Report for the first half of 2011 - and in that report, it specifically notes that it received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality and a different request from a different agency to remove videos that allegedly defame law enforcement officials.

In both instances, Google did not comply with the requests, which the company did not offer specifics about.

The report actually covers the first half of the year so these requests were not part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In recent days, there has been criticism of how police officials have handled the crowds at these movements. And, just as you can imagine, the protesters - and bystanders - at these protests have been armed with video-capable mobile phones that can upload a clip to YouTube in a matter of seconds.

For Google, the bigger message is clear: YouTube has become more than a video site - it’s become the digital archivist of historical events.Those clips - just like the famous images of the Kent State shootings in 1970 - are part of history now, a citizen movement that will undoubtedly shape Washington politics, impact local law enforcement policies and possibly change the course for next year’s presidential election.

YouTube has become a video channel for the people and, as such, users have an expectation that Google won’t just remove a video because local cops think it makes them look bad. That says a lot about the First Amendment integrity of the company. Or maybe it’s just Google’s way of keeping the protesters from camping out in front of the Googleplex.

Regardless, Google’s role here - whether it likes it or not - is to archive the video footage of our nation’s (and world’s) events and the transparency at which it’s doing this is to be commended. From the look of the report, Google received an average of about 4-5 takedown requests daily - or 757 in the six-month period. Of those, 113 were for videos on YouTube.

In all, Google complied - or partially complied - with 63 percent of the total takedown requests across all of its properties, including Google Images, Google Maps and Blogger. Some of those requests were categorized under topics such as hate speech, national security and violence - so there could be some legitimate reasons for the takedowns.

Google didn’t offer specifics on the incidents - and that’s OK. Google’s report lets all of us know - from angry protester to frustrated police chief - that videos of police acting inappropriately can be uploaded to YouTube and will stay there, even if police officials don’t like it.

Related coverage: Google's Transparency Report shows sharp rise in takedown requests

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

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  • Color me amazed...

    Google actually behaving like the Google of old and standing on principal. I am amazed.
    • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

      I'm also impressed, way to go google. Its nice to see a company with more integrity than the police.
    • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

      @NoAxToGrind <br>I disagree with the way the Occupy "heathuns" are doing their protests. We would not be able to show our kids Kent State is if the media of that did did the same. It is an attempt to rewrite history into something it is not. THAT is a very bad practice. Rewriting for self serving needs is not good. The media has responsibilities.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    One of the rare times Google actually did the right thing.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    Way to go Google for standing firmly to abide the nation's greatest gift...Free Speech!!
  • Government abuse of power should always be checked.

    Kudos to Google. When our government breaks the law, they should be held accountable, just like the rest of us. This is the exact reason why whistle-blower sites should be left alone. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press should be kept alive in order to keep vast number of power-abusers in our government in line.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    Yet we don't really know what the Govt considers National Security do we?

    Color me doubtful those requests that Google complied with had anything to do protecting our Govt.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    Are we over dramatizing with the Kent State photo from the Vietnam era? The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.<br><br>I haven't seen a Police incident that they shot people rapid fire killing anyone on You Tube.
    • You make a good point, but...

      You are correct. This article has nothing to do with the Kent State shootings, which happened a "mere" 41 years ago, nor does it have anything to do with the National Guardsmen who were responsible. To these old eyes, this photo is a cliche, because I have seen it over and over again ever since it happened.

      I was ready to call it "low-hanging fruit" for zdnet, a cliched photo that was widely distributed and easily obtained. However, it is a wonderful example of government authority acting very badly, and it is needs to be stated and restated to new generations as to what can happen when government authority turns against the citizens it is supposed to protect. (Yes, yes, I know that some of the protesters weren't totally innocent -- some of them threw rocks, professional agitators were involved, etc., etc.. However, they weren't responding to the Guardsmen with deadly force, as the Guardsmen responded to them.)

      Government exists to protect the people. If government agents are brutalizing them instead, this needs to be called out. If government authorities can beat and mistreat citizens and get away with it, it's just a matter of time before they can kill them and get away with it. Then what happens to our government that is supposed to be "of the people, for the people, by the people?"
      sissy sue
      • The Lessons of Kent State

        @sissy sue
        Go to to learn about the events and aftermath of Kent State. It seems to me that police departments and officers at the Occupy events have forgotten the lessons.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    I have to admit I had not been impressed with Google... but this does impress me. I have to give Google props for not removing the police brutality videos.
  • Late term abortion

    Google/YouTube is consistent. I just found a famous video of the brutal dismemberment of a living thing done by Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson. Although there is an "18 or over" warning due to the gore, it's still there.

    I would call this government brutality. And yes, the police will definitely show up if you try to stop it. In fact, they will forcefully remove you if you even get within so many feet of the building on a public sidewalk!

    Another reason to be thankful for free speech...
    • Like it or not, there is a massive massive difference.


      Everyone has their own opinions and its plain you have yours, good for you, your entitled to it.

      The big difference between what your worried about is while abortion is legal, police beating on people is not. We may not always agree on what should be legal and what should not be legal, and a right to speak and protest in that regard has to be respected, but, the bottom line is, there is a huge difference when something is already prohibited by law and when something is not.
  • oh, a picture that looks like a dead guy while I have breakfast..

    how nice to see that. But Google is smart to do the thing that upsets the least number of its customers. I doubt right or wrong or any kind of morals entered into it. As for what kind of image/reporting/posting the government considers a national security threat? Start by listing "Anything that makes the government look bad" and go from there.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    I think it's fantastic. I also think the police should be uploading videos of the drug addicts, anarchists, and general miscreants that are piggy-backing on a valid democratic exercise so the world can see the punks they are being forced to deal with as well. Fair is fair.
  • Police brutality

    friends, I ask you to go to Barack Obamas' FB page and write to him to make a call to cease the oppression of the Occupy groups across this nation. The police brutality shown is nothing less than a NAZI tactic.
  • RE: Google to cops: Police brutality videos will stay on YouTube

    I guess I'm amazed the authorities had the audacity to request the removal of the material. If I behave badly, I don't get special treat ment.