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Censorship requests are rising

AFP-JIJI

Google on Thursday released data showing that requests by governments to censor content have hit new heights, with Brazil and the United States leading the way.

Google received 2,285 government requests to remove content from it properties, including YouTube and search pages, in the second half of last year, compared to 1,811 requests in the first six months, according to its latest transparency report. The requests related to 24,179 pieces of content, up from 18,070.

“As we’ve gathered and released more data over time, it’s become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown,” Google legal director Susan Infantino said in a blog post. “In more places than ever, we’ve been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services.”

Google launched its semiannual transparency reports three years ago, saying its intent is to “shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe.”

In the second half of last year, Google logged notable increases in content removal requests from Brazil and Russia, and fielded inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube posts of clips from the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” film, which sparked violent protests around the world.

The spike from Brazil was attributed in large part to a local law banning commentary critical of candidates during elections.

Requests from Russia to remove content from Google jumped from six in the first half of last year to 114 in the second half, with all but seven of them citing a law that took effect there during the fall, according to the report.

The United States was second to Brazil in requests, filing 321 in the second half of last year. Germany, India and Turkey filled out the top five, with 231, 160 and 147 requests.