Google reports more government removal requests 'than ever before'

Google's latest Transparency Report tracked sharp increases in removal requests from government agencies -- especially in Russia and Brazil.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Google has updated its global Transparency Report for the seventh time with new figures about how many data removal requests it receives from government agencies worldwide.

Turns out those numbers are only getting bigger as the Internet giant admitted that it has received more requests than ever before as of December 2012.

Here's how it breaks down.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation said it received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content between July and December 2012.

That's up from 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content during the first half of 2012 alone.

That might sound like lot of requests, but Google legal director Susan Infantino described in a blog post on Thursday that the "information we share on the Transparency Report is just a sliver of what happens on the Internet."

Google highlighted where removal requests have jumped the most, notably in Brazil and Russia.

In both cases, the requests were made in reflection of laws in those countries -- albeit the laws are quite different. Infantino further explained about each on the official Google blog.

In Brazil:

The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests—316 to be exact—called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. We’re appealing many of these cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.

And Russia:

Another place where we saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, we received six requests, the most we had ever received in any given six-month period from Russia. But in the second half of the year, we received 114 requests to remove content—107 of them citing this new law.

The complete and up-to-date Transparency Report is available online now.

More about Google's past Transparency Reports on ZDNet:

Chart via The Official Google Blog

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