“Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.” (taken from George Orwell’s 1984)
Troubling. Alarming. Censorship. Free expression is at risk. These are just some of the terms in which Google used to describe its latest data of government removal requests all around the world on the second half of 2011. The big brother is more active than ever on the virtual world…
Back on April 2010 Google begun disclosing publicly on its Transparency Report data about the content removal requests the company received from government agencies across the globe. Theses stats are being updated every six months and the most recent update was the fifth.
Google reports it received on the second half of 2011 over 18,000 removal requests from government agencies worldwide, a jump of 17.4% to an all-time record. The requests diversified around Google’s products such as the search results, YouTube videos and Blogger posts.
But not each government removal request is being automatically complied by Google. Every request is reviewed manually and when Google doesn’t find any legal justification for the request, it’s being denied. In fact, for some countries Google complied to 0% (zero percent) of the requests…
Here are just some of the removal requests from local government officials which Google denied to comply to:
- Canada- YouTube video in which some Canadian citizen urinating on his passport (!) and flushing it down the toilet.
- Pakistan- YouTube videos in which the Pakistan Army and few politicians are being ridiculed.
- Poland- Search result criticizing some government agency.
- Spain- 270 search results referencing public figures.
- United States- Blog which allegedly defaming personally law enforcement official.
In addition, Google reporting that the number of removal requests from U.S. government officials has more than doubled and removal requests from Indian officials rose by 49% in the second half of 2011. Four new countries submitted content removal requests for the first time: Bolivia, Czech Republic, Jordan and Ukraine.
It’s unclear why the number of content removal requests is spiking all over the world. I can only assume that governments all around the world are acknowledging what a powerful medium is the internet and they try to control or limit it, in many cases unjustifiably according to Western standards (sometimes BY Western countries).
This report is tremendously important and I wish that more internet giants such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and AOL would offer this kind of information to the general public. After all, (almost) nobody wants to wake up into George Orwell’s insufferable world.