Google: Gov't removal requests rise sharply, especially in Turkey, Russia

A Google legal director pointed to a more "worrying trend," which she specified was the number of removal requests related to political content.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Google is one of the few tech companies discovered to be a source for the National Security Agency's previously-secret data mining program, PRISM, that had already been publishing transparency reports for some time.

The Internet giant, like many other prominent Silicon Valley brands, is repeatedly trying to distance itself from the criticism surrounding the NSA.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation's latest crack at this is another update to its Transparency Report for the first half of 2013.

But the United States government isn't the only one about which Google seems worried.

Emphasizing that government removal requests continue to rise worldwide, Google received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content during the first six months of this year. That translates to a 68 percent increase over the second half of 2012.

But Google's legal department asserts that an uptick in government removal requests shouldn't be taken lightly -- especially given that percentage increase.

Google legal director Susan Infantino pointed to a more "worrying trend" in a blog post on Thursday, which she specified was the number of removal requests related to political content.

While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world.

Infantino focused on two countries in particular, Turkey and Russia, the latter of which is frequently in the news these days due to criticism surround controversial human rights policies.

Infantino attributed the rise in Russia to the implementation of a "blacklist law" last fall, leading to 257 removal requests during the first half of 2013, more than double demanded during 2012 overall.

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